Chinese authorities continue to struggle with illegal VPN services, especially those that are advertised as solutions to circumvent the Great Chinese Firewall. VPN services in China are not illegal for themselves, however, since 2017, all VPN providers are required to officially register, obtain licenses and ensure that their services are not used for criminal activities or to bypass the national firewall.
According to the publication Litchi news, Taizhou City Police recently arrested a 29-year-old man who owned an illegal VPN service and earned more than $ 1.6 million (approximately 11 million yuan) from the business.
The suspect appears under the pseudonym Gao, and it is reported that since mid-2016 he has been the operator of the VPN service, which allowed to bypass the restrictions of the Great Chinese Firewall. More than 28,000 regular customers used his VPN services, so Gao’s revenues are no match for other VPN providers that the Chinese authorities had previously arrested. So, most operators of such services earned much more modest amounts (in the amount of tens of thousands of US dollars).
Gao has already pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing. Most likely, the prison term will be considerable. The fact is that at the beginning of 2017, the Chinese authorities announced the launch of a coordinated campaign to eliminate all unregistered VPN providers. For example, in September 2017, the Chinese authorities sentenced a man to nine months in prison for managing a VPN service that brought him only about $ 2,000. In the same 2017, Chinese authorities sentenced another VPN operator to five years in prisonand he earned about $ 120,000 and provided services to approximately 8,000 customers.