July 16, 2020

DECOUPLING: VPN providers rethink Hong Kong servers after China’s security law.

In recent decades, Hong Kong has been considered a haven for data centers given its strategic location in Asia, a legal system trusted by international businesses, and reliable internet connectivity. Many virtual private network (VPN) operators keep servers in the city, serving mainland users who want to conceal their internet activity or access websites blocked by the Chinese authority.

But some VPN providers are reevaluating the risks of keeping their servers in Hong Kong upon the enactment of the national security law, which critics warn could compromise user privacy and have a chilling effect on free speech. Under the new legal framework, internet service providers will be required to turn over user data to the authorities.

VPN services are gaining ground globally as they claim to provide better privacy from users’ internet providers and sites visited, although they could be vulnerable to attacks if not properly secured.

In response to the new security rules, TunnelBear, a Toronto-based VPN service acquired by McAfee in 2018, announced it will remove all of its Hong Kong servers “to ensure the safety” of its users.

Hong Kong is mainland China now, and China is asshole.

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