- Avast is not willing to risk its users’ privacy in Hong Kong or enter legal trouble situations.
- The company is seizing operations in the area, and will now route traffic through Singapore and Taiwan.
- There’s no optimal solution to the problems that arose from the new legislation in Hong Kong, so it’s a “wait and see” case now.
Hong Kong’s new national security law has brought a commotion among all tech companies operating in the area, including VPN service providers. China is stepping into the otherwise “special administrative region” and demands to have the power to oversee everything, and this is obviously not playing well with privacy-protection companies.
While some VPN vendors have decided to take their chances by operating bare-bones servers in Hong Kong, others are packing up their stuff and moving the supporting infrastructure to the nearest possible points. Avast has taken the latter approach, announcing that they are temporarily moving their VPN servers and business out of Hong Kong.
As the company explains, the new legislation passed in Hong Kong essentially renders truly private VPN products illegal. Avast prefers to reroute Hong Kong traffic through Singapore and Taiwan, instead of dealing with absurd demands or the risk of wiretaps. As they clarify, this is a temporary measure taken in the context of precaution. After the enforcement of the law is evaluated, they may re-open for business in the area.
How much the Chinese government is willing to dip its nose into VPN traffic remains a burning question for all vendors, but some prefer to discover the answer through others.
For Avast users (Avast SecureLine VPN, AVG Secure VPN, and HMA) based in Hong Kong, it is obvious that routing traffic through Taiwan and Singapore is not an ideal solution, and you are bound to notice delays and hiccups.
However, the connection will be encrypted, and all internet domains will stay uncensored and accessible for you. Avast sees this as a necessary move done out of an abundance of caution, trading off performance for user privacy protection.
If the Chinese government proves to be overly intrusive and enforce data retention policies to Hong Kong-based VPN providers, we will see many companies upgrading their infrastructure in Taiwan. The problem with this scenario is the geography of the area and the fact that Taiwan lies about six hundred kilometers away from Hong Kong. No matter how good the Taiwan infrastructure gets, there are always going to be noticeable speed losses.
One more thing that is lost in this case is access to content that is exclusively available to Hong Kong, but this should be easier to swallow.