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Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Chinese operator, Beijing Sinnet Technology, has told its local customers on Tuesday to stop using illegal virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass China’s internet censorship.

Sinnet sent out emails on Friday and Monday to its users requesting them to delete tools including VPNs and any other software that allows them to get pass the country’s so-called “Great Firewall,” which blocks websites from other countries.

An Amazon spokeswoman said that Sinnet is in charge of guaranteeing that its customers in China follow the local laws and their notice was meant to remind their users of their responsibilities.

According to the Chinese company’s representative, if their clients do not abide by the rule, the available services and websites will be shut down, adding that they are regularly monitoring if any of their users are using prohibited software or storing illegal content.

This is in compliance with the instructions from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the regulator that supervises utilization of VPNs. MIIT did not comment on the matter.

The guidance came after tech conglomerate, Apple Inc., decided to remove about 60 of its VPN services from its app store in China on Saturday in response to the local laws.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said that they would have preferred to not delete the apps, but just like what they do in other countries, they comply with the law wherever they do business.

They were also hopeful that the restrictions will ease eventually as innovation really needs freedom to work together and communicate.  

VPNs are very important to a lot of businesses and various groups as they depend on its ability to connect to a more extensive internet. They are also used by individuals in China to see blocked content including Facebook, YouTube and particular news-media outlets.   

Back in June of this year, China passed a new cybersecurity law that bans the use of unapproved VPNs as well as requiring companies, including foreign cloud providers to put their data within the country.

The law also enforces security checks on financial and communication businesses, and obligates citizens to use their actual names in messaging services.   

Analysts believed that the government has been more insistent on demanding companies to make acknowledgements, following the passage of the new cybersecurity law, and ahead of the Communist Party conclave later this year, at which most of China’s top leader are expected to be replaced.  

The 19th Communist Party National Congress was also among the reasons as to why Chinese authorities have been tightening up on almost everything, from internet browsing to live-streaming websites and social media.

VPN providers said that the extent and seriousness of the guidance makes them fear it could last further than a leadership handover.

Like several internet businesses in China, cloud computing in the country requires companies to have a local partner since they are not allowed to use their own brand, nor own a controlling stake in any cloud corporation.

While Amazon and Microsoft both manage cloud services in China, homegrown rival companies such as Alibaba beat them in terms of size as the e-commerce giant has its own cloud services, which have developed at a fast pace in China.

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