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China Censorship IT Technology

China's VPN Developers Face Crackdown (bbc.com) 55

China recently launched a crackdown on the use of software which allows users to get around its heavy internet censorship. Now as the BBC reports, developers are facing growing pressure. From the report: The three plain-clothes policemen tracked him down using a web address. They came to his house and demanded to see his computer. They told him to take down the app he was selling on Apple's App Store, and filmed it as it was happening. His crime was to develop and sell a piece of software that allows people to get round the tough restrictions that limit access to the internet in China. A virtual private network (VPN) uses servers abroad to provide a secure link to the internet. It's essential in China if you want to access parts of the outside world like Facebook, Gmail or YouTube, all of which are blocked on the mainland. "They insisted they needed to see my computer," the software developer, who didn't want us to use his name, told us during a phone interview. "I said this is my private stuff. How can you search as you please?" No warrant was produced and when he asked them what law he had violated they didn't say. Initially he refused to co-operate but, fearing detention, he relented. Then they told him what they wanted: "If you take the app off the shelf from Apple's App Store then this will be all over." 'Sorry, I can't help you with that'. Up until a few months ago his was a legal business. Then the government changed the regulations. VPN sellers need a licence now.
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China's VPN Developers Face Crackdown

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @03:44PM (#54986223)

    I said this is my private stuff. How can you search as you please?

    Um, because you are in China???

    I find it amusing that people in the other parts of the world think that protections afforded citizens of other countries seem to apply to them automatically also.

    China is just a thinly veiled police state so they can search what they like, when they like. That's just the reality of being in China.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And yet, many in the US are now using or considering using VPNs to avoid their own thinly veiled police state. And the cynical will wonder whether those VPN providers have been compromised by their overseers, or by friends of their overseers. Even Tor isn't safe from being compromised by the State.

      Scoff away at those poor naive Chinese citizens.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        America isn't really a "police" state as it is a "corporatist" state. In China (as in Russia) there is overlap between the people with the money and the people with the guns, but when push comes to shove the people with the guns always win. In the US, the people with the money essentially control the people with the guns (through the facade of the "rule of law"). Insofar as VPNs remain useful to the people with money, VPNs will remain available in the US. In China the people with the guns don't care abo

        • America isn't really a "police" state as it is a "corporatist" state. In China (as in Russia) there is overlap between the people with the money and the people with the guns, but when push comes to shove the people with the guns always win.

          No, this isn't true. The golden rule applies universally, and you know which golden rule I'm referring to.

      • I find it amusing that I just said "in other parts of the world" and people like you assumed the U.S.

        But even though the U.S. does have it's own overbearing government issues now, it is NOTHING like what Chinese citizens have to go through...

        After all In the U.S. you may want to use a VPN for extra security. But in China you don't even have the option to run a VPN, nor sell one... meanwhile in the U.S. we can legally grow and see pot in some sates.

    • by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @04:09PM (#54986473)
      Yeah, its not like the USA will ever demand you unlock your phone at the boarder, demand you hand over what your social web site log/pass are, finger print you, etc.

      I guess its also lucky they asked questions first and did not just start shooting.

      Or perhaps they could throw you into a for profit prison and forced you to work, but its OK because they are prisoners not slaves.

      Maybe China needs to elect a sexual predator to their highest office

      From an outsiders perspective where we are not inundated and indoctrinated about how "great" the USA is, it actually looks just as sick as China, but just for different reasons.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by hyades1 ( 1149581 )

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the most unintentionally ironic comment I've read here in weeks.

      Since the "Patriot Act", main difference between China's thinly-veiled police state and America's thinly-veiled police state is geography.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The difference is immense in that China and the US have different laws.

        Sure, in the US if you murder a police officer or a politician you will be detained for a long time either in a prison or a mental hospital (rarely, though, will you be executed) and that's probably true in China as well (except perhaps for the "rarely executed" part). And, yes, both countries enforce this via a "police state" (a state without police will almost certainly devolve into mob rule - and then the "police" are whatever the "mo

        • The US has a larger percentage of its population behind bars than China. And even China doesn't have an equivalent to Guantanamo Bay.

          So please spare me the outrage.

          • You assume the people in prison in the US is something to be outraged about, likening it to people jailed in China for speaking up.

            While a good chunk may be drug users here, that is not the same as tracking down and imprisoning someone who challenges your iron fist on power. What a clown.

    • Fundamental human rights are fundamental to all humans, just because some Governments don't respect citizens rights doesn't mean those citizens don't have rights, it just means their government is morally bankrupt. Read the declaration of Independence as written by Thomas Jefferson, it wasn't just a declaration of human rights for Americans, it was a declaration for all mankind.

      When governments become corrupt abusers, it is not just the right, nay the DUTY of the abused to rise up, overthrow the governme
    • I find it amusing that people in the other parts of the world think that protections afforded citizens of other countries seem to apply to them automatically also.

      you might be surprised, or disdainful, at the number of people outside the US who try to claim their "Fifth Amendment Rights" or who expect the police to read them Miranda when they're being arrested. It's what happens when people confuse TV and films with real life.

    • for sad reason. At least they asked him to "take the app off the shelf from Apple's App Store then this will be all over" instead of shooting him or arresting/dragging him out on the spot.

    • China is just a thinly veiled police state so they can search what they like, when they like. That's just the reality of being in China.

      Cut down on the obvious propaganda, please, and try to learn a little bit more about the reality in China. As many have argued over and over here on slashdot, you can justify saying the same about the US, where apparently illegal searches and wiretaps go on all the time. In the US, UK and other, similar nations you sometimes hear news that "The department for [whatever] have issued industry guidelines ..." - but when the same thing happens in China, it is "The State Cracks Down On ...". I am all for critici

  • What they need is to go underground and work anonymously, and store their work on servers outside the country. I hope others are helping them circumvent these rules.

  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @03:45PM (#54986233)

    The Chinese government's censors and snitches have been a lot more active than usual. It started when the current President Xi Jinping rose to power and started his crackdown on Party "corruption". Later with the rising tensions in North Korea they've clamped down on all dissent and this includes tightening the screws on the Great Chinese Firewall.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @03:56PM (#54986345) Homepage Journal

    Every 5 years the Chinese Communist Party has a big meeting and various leadership positions get shuffled around. It just so happens that another one of these is about to happen in a few months.

      Xi Jinping came into power in 2012 and it's widely believed that he will renew his position. Regardless, Chinese government always cracks down on various channels of dissent just before these meetings, or some other big event (such as Beijing Olympics). It usually blows over afterwards and things go back to normal.

  • VyperVPN hacked OpenVPN to get around the DPI (deep packet inspection) employed on the Great Firewall. They scramble the meta data in packets so as not to look like OVPN packets. https://www.goldenfrog.com/vyp... [goldenfrog.com]
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @04:35PM (#54986633)
    Wouldn't it have been prudent to do your development work on a server outside the country? And use a VPN (with a password committed only to memory) to connect to the server, and do your coding work via remote desktop, rather than do the development locally? I mean it's not like the binary needs to be compiled inside the country where it's going to be used.
  • What is a "VPN seller?" I think of them as service providers, but this article makes it sound like a software provider.

    Anyway, I'd think people would just run an VPN client on a computer where you're allowed to do whatever you want, and then just have that computer be a wifi access point for the iPhone. Why wouldn't that work?

  • US governments treatment of online gambling software.
    https://slashdot.org/story/06/09/07/2017201/us-arrests-online-gambling-company-chairman for example.
  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:09PM (#54987843) Journal

    get any (foreign experts) to run their gigantic brand new telescope

    https://science.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

    I mean, you'd really have to pay me a significant premium (not saying you couldn't) to do my job (bioinformatics/genetic engineering) in a country where there is not even a pretense of privacy/access to uncensored news. Of course, (almost) everyone has a price for (almost) every job so I guess they can just keep raising the salary until someone bites, they've got the money. (I realize that there are very few people in the world who fit their qualifications but there are some and I'm sure some of them might be tempted).

    The U.S. has tremendously benefited from China developing this way. If it wasn't so draconian on its suppression of (human) rights in the preservation of order (and the enrichment of party members), a lot more ethnic Chinese might be tempted to go. I personally know some Chinese-Americans who are quite prominent in their scientific field (no I didn't go to M.I.T. "Made In Taiwan" but close by!) who have no interest at all in working in Mainland China despite being actively recruited by the government there (basically every time they go to a conference there, someone will approach them). When you look at the number of scientists of (probably) Chinese descent contributing to American and European science (just look at the surnames of the authors of articles on "sciencedaily.com") you'll realize how much of our scientific dominance is due to their work.

    Of course Trump may flip this around

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