China ‘Shenanigans’ Hindering Web Users From Evading Censors, Witopia Says

Witopia Inc., whose Internet service allows users to circumvent Chinese government censors, said it’s receiving a surge in customer complaints about technical difficulties in the country.

The company is recommending users to report problems via e- mail instead of its live support service because of an “extraordinary volume from China shenanigans,” according to a Witopia posting on its website today.

Witopia and other providers of virtual private networks, or VPNs, allow subscribers to anonymously surf blocked websites by employing private proxy servers that encrypt data. China has the world’s most censored Internet market, according to Herdict.org, a project of Harvard University that tracks reports of Web outages.

Witopia, located in Reston, Virgina, didn’t immediately return calls and e-mails to its press office. Li Wufeng, chief of the Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau of China’s ruling State Council, said services offered in China must be provided by licensed operators and there have never been any issues involving the access of legitimate VPN services that are used by companies to enhance security.

China, which bans pornography, gambling and content critical of the ruling Communist Party, blocks websites run by Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s YouTube.

While VPNs are mainly used by companies to give employees secured access to corporate networks, they can also allow users to access blocked sites and help enable individuals outside of the U.S. to watch geographically restricted services such as Hulu LLC’s online videos.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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