As protesters march on, Private Internet Access VPN has been blocked in Hong Kong

Posted on Sep 7, 2019 by Caleb Chen
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*** UPDATE – 9/11/2019 – we have been able to successfully unblock our servers in Hong Kong, and our VPN is working well there currently. See: “Private Internet Access No Longer Blocked in Hong Kong” for details. -Chris M ***

Private Internet Access’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) is being blocked in Hong Kong. Last week, it was leaked that Hong Kong’s (HK) internet service providers (ISPs) had made plans to shut down internet dependent services and apps used by the protesters that have been marching and organizing for over a month as a way to try and end the HK protests. At the time, media reports focused on the likely possibility that the HK ISPs, under order from the HK government (under order from the Chinese Communist Party), would ban messaging apps such as Telegram or Messenger. It’s now clear that the government’s plan to limit the protests from a technological perspective are starting with the VPNs. It is now official: The Great Firewall of China has expanded to block in Hong Kong. These are the beginning salvos of the HK VPN block.

Private Internet Access (PIA) users in Hong Kong are either completely unable to connect, or they are shown by their ISP that they are connected, but then are unable to navigate to any websites. Private Internet Access believes in an open internet that is accessible by all. We entirely condemn the blocking of VPN services, or any apps at all, in Hong Kong and are actively searching for solutions to continue providing our services to the Hong Kong internet users that depend on an open internet to continue their freedom of expression.

In Hong Kong, China came for the social media accounts, now it’s coming for the VPNs used to access them

Some particularly vocal anti-Beijing protestors have pointed out that their social media accounts, on non Chinese social media platforms like Facebook, are being turned off. This points at dedicated and coordinated action from the CCP internet troll army. Trolls from the Chinese internet army have long been known to be active in Western corners of the internet. The CCP internet troll army even recently went on an online campaign to drum up fake support for mainland China’s side of the protests using suggestive, pornographic and troll accounts on Twitter. As one person with first hand knowledge of the struggle iterated on Twitter, the Chinese government has some reach that extends outside of China:

https://twitter.com/RobBar88/status/1159596324964012032

While this influence wanes depending on what non-Chinese country you are in, the locale that is most susceptible to CCP influence is still Hong Kong – especially at this sensitive time. At this point, it’s obvious that the Chinese government is going ahead with their drafted plans to have Hong Kong ISPs block valuable internet services used by protesters. Now that the ISPs in HK have been shown to be completely under the thumb of those who oppose internet freedom, the need for Private Internet Access in Hong Kong grows exponentially. Now that the Great Firewall of China has officially expanded to Hong Kong, the future in Hong Kong looks particularly grim.

About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master's in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor's from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.

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7 Comments

  1. Jeray

    Isn’t PIA supposed to be working on stealth protocols? I thought this was announced well over a year ago that this would be coming?

    2 weeks ago
    Reply
  2. Saja Lutor

    Thanks god nowadays there are really private messengers where you can stay anonymous even not using vpn. Check Utopia – it’s p2p and decentralized, even developers can’t access any user’s information. I think it’s the first really secured messenger.

    2 weeks ago
    Reply
  3. test

    According to your passage, it seems the people in Hong Kong don’t know how to use shadowsocks or V2ray. And they also don’t know how to build a proxy server themselves by renting a server outside China. I don’t think the people in Hong Kong are described as dumb as what you’ve written.

    1 week ago
    Reply
  4. HK user

    Fake and misleading article. I connect PIA VPN from Hong Kong without any problem.

    1 week ago
    Reply
  5. Vancent Kam

    This does not make sense.
    HK people can access Internet freely in HK. There is no point blocking VPN.

    Moreover, no other VPN service provider report they are blocked in HK.

    1 week ago
    Reply
  6. Mark Webb-Johnson

    This is completely false and irresponsible to report like this.

    I am a PIA user in HK and it is working fine for me (both 4G and WiFi). My company also manages thousands of VPN’s in and out of Hong Kong and we have not seen any blocking activity.

    To block PIA, or other VPNs, the government would have to issue a legal order to each of the 200+ ISPs here, and they would all have to comply without challenge. That is simply not going to happen.

    1 week ago
    Reply
  7. Jon

    Does this also impact users on alternate ports (443/80)? How does this affect the HK VPN access point, which still seems to be working?

    1 week ago
    Reply