A regulation to punish unauthorized Internet connections outside China's Great Firewall was made public by Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Monday, calling into question the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by individuals in the region.
The regulation, which was issued to "strengthen China's rule of law and cyberspace security," was enacted in July, 2016 and will expire in July 2021.
If an individual accesses international network privately or via "illegal channels," or offers related services without authorization, they could be fined up to 15,000 yuan ($2,178), according to the regulation of network inspection released on the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau's website.
Those who violate the regulation to make profits would be fined and their gains confiscated accordingly, said the regulation.
First-time individuals caught breaking the regulations on a non-profit basis would be warned and banned from connecting to the network, the regulations explained.
Those who profit up to 10,000 yuan from illegal Internet connections or break the regulation twice would be punished with fines ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 yuan, and their illegal assets would be forfeited.
Basic telecommunication companies and Internet access service providers are barred from setting up or renting special lines (including VPNs) to carry out cross-border operations without approval, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated in January.