Continuing its crackdown on Virtual Private Network applications that allow users to bypass regulated communication channels, the Chinese Supreme Court setenced a man to nine months in prison for selling VPN software.
Deng Jiewei, 26, was found guilty of “illegal control of a computer system” under Chinese criminal law after authorities seized control of his website. Jiewei sold VPN software that could bypass tools used by the People’s Republic of China to regulate the Internet domestically – colloquially referred to as The Great Firewall.
“Whoever violates state regulations and intrudes into computer systems with information concerning state affairs, construction of defense facilities, and sophisticated science and technology is be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention,” the law states.
As reported by whatsonweibo.com, a site that watches Chinese social network Sina Weibo up close to take the pulse of the masses, Jiewei was actually arrested in October 2016, and was sentenced in January of this year. However, the news only began to make the rounds two days ago, on September 3.
Weibo is a microblogging platform that serves as an alternative to Twitter which, along with Facebook and other popular social networks, is banned in China.
The news of Jiewe’s arrest struck fear into Weibo users. Some posted references to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” while others expressed concern that end-users of Jiewei’s VPN applications could face similar charges.
In an article on Bitdefender’s Business Insights blog, we noted how the West is gearing up to enforce regulations that aim to protect customer data, while the East is cracking down on domestic use of the Internet in a much more stringent manner, putting the state’s interests first. Jiewei’s arrest is a stark example of the latter approach to regulating information, communication and Internet traffic.