The Straits Times
Published on Dec 21, 2012

Great Firewall 'upgrade' hits China Internet users


BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese authorities, who have long sought to limit access to information, seem to have reinforced the so-called Great Firewall of China, frustrating foreign companies and raising activists' concerns.

The Great Firewall - China's huge system of Internet limits and censorship - now appears to be stepping up targeting of virtual private networks, or VPNs, commonly used to circumvent controls on websites the government considers threatening.

While VPNs let users gain access to sites blocked by the Firewall due to their content or sensitivity, which in China include Facebook and Twitter, they are also vital to firms, enabling secure and encrypted communications.

In the globalised economy, companies have flocked to China to try to participate in decades of stunning growth.