China’s new crackdown on circumvention tools is almost unprecedented, or at least the worst since 2012, according to Bill Bishop, an American who lives in Beijing and is the editor of the influential Sinocism newsletter. In the last few months, China has implemented several measures to block Google services. Yet, the biggest question after China’s block on VPNs is: why now?
China has always had the ability to block at least some VPN traffic, according to experts consulted by Mashable, so the reasons behind this latest crackdown might be political. In fact, ever since Lu Wei, China’s Internet czar, rose to power, the country has ramped up its censorship capabilities.
President “Xi Jinping says ‘we have to take measures to control the Internet,’ and this guy is taking those measures,” Smith said. “This guy has really got the power, and is moving forward to take control of everything about China’s Internet.”
It’s unclear if this contributed to China disrupting Astrill’s service, but the tweets have since been removed. Astrill did not respond to a request for comment.
Perhaps, this was all just a warning to VPNs operating in China, just a way for the Chinese government to assert its power and show that, if they want, they can block some of these services. Tools like Psiphon and Lantern were perhaps spared by obfuscation techniques, which makes it harder for censors to detect the use of these tools. Read more…