Residents are showing interest in virtual private networks because of fears of increased Chinese surveillance and censorship.
For several days now, the situation in Hong Kong has again been agitated as Beijing has been working on the adoption of a bill that would prohibit “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” in the semi-autonomous Chinese region. Thousands of demonstrators have been protesting since Sunday against a repressive law that comes on top of last summer’s clashes when China introduced a bill to authorize extraditions to the Middle Kingdom.
The latest tensions have, in any case, pushed Hong Kongers to turn to technologies such as VPNs to preserve their privacy and freedom of speech on the Internet.
Fear of a challenge to the unlimited Internet
Without this being a huge surprise, the feedback was materialized and became a little thicker with the details of Atlas VPN, a service known to provide a free virtual private network. Atlas indicates that the adoption of VPNs in Hong Kong was 150 times higher than usual during the week of May 17 and 24, 2020.
Even though major digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp are available locally, and Internet use is unlimited, many residents fear that the new law proposed by the Chinese government could lead to their application being blocked. In contrast, the semi-autonomous status of the region, symbolized by the maxim “one country, two systems,” has protected them. That’s why Hong Kong people are so interested in VPNs.
In addition to Atlas VPN, a glance via Google Trends shows that the curve of the search term “VPN” literally exploded on May 21, with a strong trend for several days. The “North VPN Application” topic jumped by 600% this past week, as did the “Privacy” (+300%) and “ProtonMail” (+450%) topics for encrypted webmail.
Sharp increase in installations in 24 hours following the announcement of the bill
The peak in downloads and installations began on May 21, the day the former British colony learned of China’s legislative intentions. On this day alone, Atlas VPN reports having scored a 520% increase in installations compared to the previous day. The next day, “they increased again and were up 210% compared to May 21,” the service added.
The next few days and weeks will help to clear the air. It is not yet known to what extent this law wanted by Beijing will affect the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. “If Hong Kong falls under the same digital restrictions as Chinese citizens soon, we can expect even greater interest in VPN services,” says Atlas VPN Analysis. VPN services such as the ones highlighted on this website www.tackk.com/vpn.html are getting tremendous exposure in HK.
In the meantime, Hong Kongers remain on edge and hang on to the fate that awaits them in Beijing.