Chinese partner of global e-commerce firm tell customers to end the use of VPN

BEIJING/SHANGHAI ,August2: A Chinese partner of global e-commerce firm Inc has told customers to end the use of illegal virtual private networks (VPNs), which can allow users to circumvent internet censorship.

The instruction comes after Apple Inc removed VPN services from its Chinese app store over the weekend, amid a government crackdown against their use to bypass the so-called “Great Firewall”, which restricts access to overseas websites.

In January, the government passed laws banning all VPNs not approved by regulators. Its stance is that rules governing cyberspace should mimic real-world border controls and that the internet should be subject to the same laws as sovereign states.

“If we discover (clients using unapproved VPNs), we will shut down services,” said a member of staff at Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd, which operates Amazon’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), in China.

“This is in accordance with directives from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT),” said the person, referring to the regulator that oversees VPN use. “We have asked clients to check all illegal cross-border businesses.”

The person was not authorized to speak to the media and so asked not to be identified. A member of staff at AWS, also on condition of anonymity, likewise said directives had come from the MIIT.

The MIIT did not respond to requests for comment.