In an effort to crack down on pornography and other unapproved internet content, cloud storage providers in China are being closed by the government. Three of the largest Chinese cloud storage companies have posted notices to customers that their service programs must close down by June 30th in accordance with government regulations.
KuaiPan and Vdisk, internet storage providers, owned by Xunlei and Sina, respectively, will close their free personal storage services; UC NetDisk, owned by Alibaba, will close down all cloud storage services. ‘115’ and Tencent’s Weiyun will comply by turning off some of their sharing functions.
China has one of the most complex internet censorship [PDF] systems in the world, featuring IP blocking, keyword filtering, DNS hijacking and more. Cloud storage was another way for people looking to share content in an unrestricted environment to circumvent some of those measures.
Cloud storage services in China do not operate the same way that Google or Dropbox do. They also work as search engines, making it easy to share content with other users. This is a huge concern in a country that regulates content like China – the government had no control over what was contained and shared between users. And individual companies would be hard pressed to devote resources to monitoring user content on the level required to satisfy the government. Cloud services in China were estimated [PDF] to grow from a $1.5 billion to a $20 billion industry by 2020.
The National Working Group Against Pornography and Illegal Publications, comprised of members of 29 different state departments in Chinese government, held in March that it would develop regulations to restrict the prohibited use of cloud storage sites, saying that online storage is a major source of spreading pornographic content.
In October 2015 China began a crackdown on cloud content, requiring cloud providers to monitor content for copyright infringement and to blacklist users who continued to provide and download copyrighted material. In November, it followed with an amendment to criminal law which provided legal grounds for prosecuting developers, providers and hosting services that were involved in the circumvention of internet restrictions. The amendment made failure to implement information security, illegal use of the internet, and assisting with committing an internet crime punishable under the law.