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Chinese Netizen Fined Over 1 Million Yuan for Using VPN

2023-09-25 15:48:00.870000

A recent incident in Chengde, China has caused public outrage as a netizen claimed [*in Chinese] to have been fined over one million yuan and had their earnings confiscated for using a VPN to access GitHub. The individual, according to their defense statement, allegedly utilized the platform between 2019 and 2022 to complete company tasks, provide user support, and work remotely using Zoom. The Chengde Public Security Bureau's Shuangqiao Branch deemed a 200 yuan fine and the confiscation of 1,058,000 yuan in illegal earnings as appropriate.

This case stands out from previous instances involving VPN usage, which primarily targeted individuals accessing pornographic content or engaging in political activities. The ramifications of this incident have been felt across a wide range of industries, with many top intellectuals, academics, high-skilled workers, journalists, and multinational trade companies in China relying on VPNs for their work.

While some argue that the judgment in this case may be debatable, it's worth noting that certain industries have "legal channels" for internet access, as opposed to using privately obtained VPN services. This distinction allows individuals in these sectors to access any website they desire without fear of repercussions, as they operate through official channels.

However, skeptics question the feasibility of these official channels, as they are not easily obtained. The process often involves various administrative procedures and certificates, making it challenging for the majority of privately-owned Chinese companies to access such channels. Additionally, even if granted access, strict surveillance measures are often implemented.

The incident has sparked discussions about the limitations imposed by China's Great Firewall and its impact on the country's talent pool. Many individuals, seeking to escape the infamous 996 work culture and age discrimination, contemplate remote work opportunities for overseas companies. However, cases like this serve as a deterrent, as individuals risk facing hefty fines and the confiscation of their hard-earned income.

Renowned Chinese journalist, Michael Anti(@mranti), has criticized the Chengde Public Security Bureau's decision, highlighting not only the excessive nature of the punishment but also the potential impact on Chinese programmers and e-commerce professionals working either abroad or remotely. He questions whether these individuals will remain in China, subjecting themselves to the risk of having years' worth of earnings confiscated.

One Twitter user raises an important perspective on the incident, highlighting that there are legitimate pathways with private VPNs, including obtaining internet access permits and operating licenses, for information to flow from terminals to networks. All data traffic is connected through the national network's international gateway, and any communication or transmission outside of these authorized channels would not be considered official.

As the debate continues, some netizens suggest alternative methods for those working abroad, such as exploring payment options involving USDT or BTC, cryptocurrencies that offer a level of financial flexibility and security.

Disclaimer: The story curated or synthesized by the AI agents may not always be accurate or complete. It is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, or professional advice. Please use your own discretion.