China's internet is notorious for its censorship, with the term 'Great Firewall' noting the divide between what you can and can't access within the country. Naturally you could get round the censorship with a VPN, but the Chinese government cracked down on them to stop it happening.
It hasn't stopped them, but it does give the Chinese government the perfect excuse to throw people in jail for it. Which is what just happened.
Wu Xiangyang, from the Guangxi autonomous region, was found guilty of operating a VPN service without the appropriate government licences. His punishment for letting people get around the Great Firewall is five and a half years in prison plus a fine of 500,000 yuan (£56,850).
It was alleged that Wu sold access to the VPN server via his own website, FangouVPN/Where Dog VPN, and marketplace Taobao. Accounts provided then allowed customers to bypass the Great Firewall and browse foreign websites and the greater internet community. He also sold custom routers pre-configured with the VPN that functioned in much the same way. Prosecutors claim that he had revenue of 792,638 yuan (£90,122) and profits of 500,000 yuan (£56,850). He also allegedly used Twitter to boast about selling his VPN services to 8,000 foreigners and 5,000 businesses.
So the Chinese are very big on keeping their little corner of the net sealed off, even if it's clear that people within the country would like to see what the non-approved websites have to offer. [TorrentFreak]