In a recent development, an individual in China has been fined a staggering 1.06 million Yuan ($144,907) for using a virtual private network (VPN) to access restricted websites while working remotely for a foreign employer. This incident has raised concerns within China’s IT and Web3 circles, as many rely on VPNs for similar remote-work tasks. This article delves into the details of the fine and its implications.
Chinese law strictly prohibits the use of VPNs to bypass the country’s “Great Firewall,” which blocks popular websites such as Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook. The unnamed individual, who worked as a consultant between 2019 and 2022, used a VPN to access GitHub, participate in customer support on platforms like Zoom, and engage with Twitter threads. However, the City of Chengde Police deemed the income earned through the use of a VPN as “proceeds of crime.” As a result, the individual was penalized with a fine equal to three years of their salary, totaling $144,097.
Sparking Concerns for Remote Workers
The hefty fine imposed on the individual has sent shockwaves through China’s IT and Web3 communities, where VPNs are commonly used for remote work. The reliance on VPNs allows individuals to access essential tools, collaborate with colleagues, and stay connected with the global community. With this recent ruling, remote workers in China may feel apprehensive about continuing their normal work routines, fearing the consequences of violating the VPN ban.
In a separate news item, the City of Hangzhou is implementing a unique measure to encourage spending during the 19th Asian Games. The city will airdrop 10 million digital yuan central bank digital currency (e-CNY), equivalent to $1.37 million, to incentivize food and beverage consumption. This initiative aims to boost the adoption of the e-CNY, which was also airdropped earlier in the year, amounting to 4 million e-CNY, worth $590,000.
The residents and visitors of Hangzhou can receive the e-CNY airdrop for use in specific food delivery platforms. Individuals can avail themselves of up to three vouchers, each reimbursing merchants up to 20% to 30% of the value of food items purchased in e-CNY. The vouchers are valid for five days and can only be used through select food delivery platforms. The airdrop will continue every five days until the balance is depleted.
Hong Kong police have detained 15 individuals linked to the collapse of JPEX, a cryptocurrency exchange involved in an apparent Ponzi scheme. The police received over 2,392 complaints, with a total reported loss of 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($191.6 million). As part of the investigation, authorities have seized 8 million HKD ($1 million) in cash and frozen bank accounts totaling 77 million HKD ($10 million) suspected of being proceeds of crime. JPEX had gained significant attention through extensive marketing efforts before its collapse, marking one of Hong Kong’s largest monetary losses in a Ponzi scheme.
Despite falling victim to a $70 million wallet hack orchestrated by North Korea’s Lazarus Group, Hong Kong crypto exchange CoinEx has resumed its services. The exchange claims to have updated the deposit addresses of all crypto assets to ensure the safety of its wallet system. CoinEx advises users that deposits and withdrawals will gradually resume for the remaining 500+ cryptocurrencies. The exchange’s cold wallets remain unaffected, and the CoinEx User Asset Security Foundation will bear the financial losses resulting from the incident. Various blockchain security firms, including Elliptic, have identified North Korea’s Lazarus Group as the perpetrator of this exploit.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba, through its Cloud subsidiary, has partnered with crypto custodian Cobo to create an enterprise wallet-as-a-service solution. The collaboration aims to integrate crypto wallets into software through APIs and SDKs, providing developers and organizations with an enhanced digital wallet infrastructure. Cobo, with its expertise in custodial wallet and multi-party computation technology, will play a crucial role in the development of Alibaba Cloud’s wallet service. This partnership is expected to set new standards in the security, performance, and accessibility of digital wallets within the Web3 ecosystem.
The recent fine imposed on an individual for using a VPN during remote work has brought attention to the strict regulations surrounding VPN usage in China. Meanwhile, initiatives such as the airdrop of digital currency in Hangzhou and the collaboration between Alibaba Cloud and Cobo demonstrate the increasing integration of cryptocurrencies and digital wallets into everyday life. However, the collapse of JPEX and the wallet hack suffered by CoinEx serve as stark reminders of the challenges and risks associated with the cryptocurrency industry.