Cashing in on Internet Censorship

CNN reports on the growing demand for VPN (Virtual Private Networks) to circumvent controls:

“The market is growing very rapidly at the moment,” said Patrick Lin, who offers a circumvention technology he calls “Puff” to those looking for ways to leap over firewalls. One version is available for free, while another costs $16 to use for a year.

According to Lin, since he launched the application from his California office last June, it has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. Sixty percent of its 60,000 daily users are from China while 40 percent are in Iran, he said.

“The reason is the Chinese and the Iranian governments are becoming more aggressive with blocking Web sites,” he told CNN. “If China blocks Gmail, then the user base will increase a lot more rapidly.”… David Gorodyansky, founder of the U.S.-based company AnchorFree, said his business has around one million people in China using its free VPN Hotspot Shield each month. The VPN has over 7 million monthly users in 100 countries.

Gorodyansky says the company is profitable and generates revenues by selling ads appearing on every Web page. There are 50 million page views a month in China and more than a billion worldwide.

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