A Chinese worker has been handed a hefty fine of 1.06 million yuan ($144,907) for utilizing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access websites blocked by the Chinese government,to a local news network. Employed as a consultant from 2019 to 2022, the individual relied on a VPN for routine remote work tasks for an overseas employer, incurring substantial penalties in the process.
Engaging in Remote Work Deemed Criminal
The consultant used the VPN to engage in various activities, such as viewing source codes on GitHub, answering customer service inquiries, conducting teleconferences via Zoom, and posting threads on Twitter. According to the Chengde Police's official documentation, the income earned through tasks completed using a VPN was labeled as “proceeds of crime,” resulting in a fine equivalent to three years of the worker’s salary.
A Ruling that Sends Shockwaves Through IT and Web3 Sectors
The substantial fine has caused alarm among professionals in China’s IT and Web3 communities, who often resort to VPNs to execute remote work tasks similar to those performed by the consultant. The use of VPNs to circumvent China's stringent internet restrictions, commonly known as the "Great Firewall," is illegal, further complicating the landscape for individuals and companies reliant on global internet resources.