A Guangdong province public security bureau recently imposed a Rmb1,000 fine on an individual for using virtual private network (VPN) software to evade Chinese internet censorship. The fine was issued based on the Interim Provisions of the People's Republic of China governing the International Interconnection of Computer-Based Information Networks (the Interconnection Provisions).

Although the Interconnection Provisions were enacted by the State Council in 1996, this is reportedly the first time that an individual has been punished for using VPN software to evade Chinese internet censorship.

Among other things, the Interconnection Provisions require that:

  • the international interconnection of a computer information network must use the government-provided international gateway channels; and
  • no party can establish or use other channels to make international connections without approval.

There are no reports of an enterprise ever having been punished for using VPN software.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.