China cracks down on VPNs to restrict online gambling sites
Authorities in China are clamping down on a growing online gambling industry, with virtual private networks (VPN) firmly in their sights.
Gambling is strictly forbidden in China outside of a few state-run lotteries, and the government has been aggressive in its attempt to stamp out any and all attempts by foreign bodies to service Chinese gamblers.
Late last year, 18 Crown Resorts employees – including three Australians – were arrested without charge for being in breach of the country’s strict anti-gambling laws.
While the self-governing city of Macau is one of the world’s gambling hubs, gambling and even the promotion of gambling is still frowned upon by the government.
It’s now shifting its attention to online gambling, with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announcing a campaign to clean up what it calls “disordered development” of online connections.
That includes the use of VPNs, which allow Chinese citizens to access sites – including online gambling sites – that are otherwise banned in the country.
The campaign will force all non-regulated internet services to seek government approval, meaning VPN services are now illegal.
Using vague, technical language to describe its intentions, the main China authority wants to put an end to what it calls “illegal cross-border business issues”.
VPN use is rampant in China, with gamblers having to use off-shore internet services to place a bet outside of the state-run offerings.
Frighteningly for VPN users, these companies will now be forced to share the details of any and all Chinese residents that use VPNs for illegal activities.
There has already been a wide campaign against VPNs in China, and people have reportedly already noticed a significant slow-down in internet speeds whenever a VPN is in use.
This next crackdown could bring VPN connections to a complete halt, rendering impossible any access to international gambling sites from the China mainland.
It really comes as no surprise that China is ramping up this campaign, although it seems to do so in intervals before eventually loosening the shackles. This campaign is scheduled to finish in early May of 2018, although it’s unknown if the end of the crackdown will actually see VPN speeds return to normal. China is notorious for its censorship of the internet, and despite international gambling markets being prime tourist locations for millions of Chinese tourists a year, the government still seems intent on smothering an industry that it fears leads to dissent.
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