- The ProtonVPN will not escape the dire Hong Kong situation like other VPN service providers decided to do.
- The Swiss will instead take drastic measures to help protect their users’ privacy and anonymity.
- China may soon impose VPN blocks in Hong Kong, barring any services that don’t comply with its requirements.
ProtonVPN, one of the most trusted VPN services out there, has gone to publish a blog post explaining that despite all the dire developments in the area, they are not planning to leave Hong Kong.
We have discussed the problems that arise from the new National Security Law that was imposed in Hong Kong by the Chinese state. The summary that concerns internet and VPN use, in particular, would be that all data will be subject to police and state authority inspection. VPNs that don’t log user details may soon be blocked, and some already decided to stay away from the whole process of having to navigate through a legal minefield.
Private Internet Access recently announced that it’s shutting down its VPN servers in Hong Kong, as it will not be able to guarantee the security and privacy of its users’ data. TunnelBear published a similar announcement, too, expressing serious concerns about the new law and whether or not they can keep delivering the same services in the area. ProtonVPN decided to keep its Hong Kong servers and fight for what it believes in.
Although the service calls the new measures “outrageous,” abandoning those who rely on them to stay safe and anonymous during times of rapid change would be unethical and against ProtonVPN’s fundamental values.
So, to keep things up and running in Hong Kong, ProtonVPN announced the following measures:
- Only keep “bare metal” servers running in Hong Kong, minimizing the risk of dealing with tainted software.
- Implement full-disk, block-level encryption on all ProtonVPN servers, protecting the data even in case of confiscation.
- Have nobody work in Hong Kong or China, so the Chinese authorities can’t pressure anyone.
These measures will create a layer of protection for ProtonVPN users, but how strong this layer will prove to be, remains a burning question. The landscape will soon clear, and the Chinese authorities will then have specific targets to deal with.
It is commendable that ProtonVPN isn’t willing to give up without a fight, but on the other side, it is unlikely that their service will stand the test of time in Hong Kong.
That said, if you’re in the area, consider the clock ticking. Even the most trustworthy and long-standing VPN products like the NordVPN and ExpressVPN will have to deal with an immense amount of pressure to protect their users.
NordVPN has reached out to inform us that they too are staying in Hong Kong for now, following the same approach that they took with Russia last year. “As a no-logs service provider, today NordVPN sees Hong Kong as no different from any other place in the world. We can’t prevent our servers from being seized regardless of where they are, but we can make sure that no risk will come from that. Users can also choose to connect to servers located in other countries in the region,” is the message they sent in their official statement.