With China's new security laws about to be imposed on Hong Kong, the Special Administrative Region is facing a crackdown like it has never seen before.
The security legislation aims to tackle sedition, subversion and terrorist activities as well as allow Chinese intelligence agencies to set up base in Hong Kong, one of the world's leading financial hubs. Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials have sought to reassure investors that their interests would not be harmed and said the laws would only target a minority of 'troublemakers' who had posed an 'imminent dange' to China's national security.
However, this won't just be a solution with more brutal dispersal tactics for dealing with demonstrators on the streets, but will also increase monitoring of internet traffic. China is well known for its Great Fire Wall (the GFW) and the control which it is able to exert over its population when it comes to what they can say or do online. Google, Facebook and Twitter are all blocked there plus using a VPN is illegal.
With the advent of these draconian laws, Hong Kong residents have come to the realization that they need to do something to protect their freedom of expression and their right to online privacy. As a result there has been a huge upsurge in interest in using VPNs in the city, something few had previously considered. Currently, internet regulation is quite lax in comparison to the ridged controls over the border in mainland China but a tightening up of this freedom could be one of the first moves by the authorities under the guise of 'security'.
When the legislation was announced, one particular VPN provider, Surfshark, saw a 700% increase in sales in a single day and NordVPN said it had received 120 times more downloads on that day compared to the day before. In Apple Inc's Hong Kong app store, VPNs represented 7 of the 10 most downloaded apps, excluding games. On the day prior to the announcement of the new legislation, there were none. Google Trends cited that the keyword “VPN” rocketed 1,680% on May 21 from a day earlier.
For all of our readers in Hong Kong, please stay safe, not only from Covid-19 but also online. decentralize.today strongly recommends that you use the TOR-browser to stay truly private. If you chose to go for a VPN service (remember you're dealing with an middle man!) you should use mullvad, ivpn or protonvpn. These are the few which don't have trackers and are truly on your side.