Chinese eCommerce company asks merchants to stop selling software that allow users to circumvent state censorship
Taobao.com, part of e-commerce company Alibaba Group, has reportedly asked merchants to stop selling virtual private networks (VPNs), Internet protocol proxies and other software used to circumvent government censorship on the site.
The company warned the merchants that their accounts could be cancelled if they do not stop salesof tools that allowed users to illegally visit foreign websites.
Taobao.com also said that the decision to place the ban was its own and received no official order, according to an Associated Press report.
The company boasts of having 7 million merchants and 800 million products on its site.
Alibaba Group’s vice president for international corporate affairs John Spelich said that the company issued the warning after a routine check of the being sold on its site.
He told AP, "We are constantly looking at products that we sell and asking ourselves, is this the right business to be in for any number of mercantile reasons?"
"A decision was taken that this was a business that we probably should not be in, so we exited," he said.
"I’m not aware of anybody asking us to stop."
In May, The Guardian had reported on China’s has crack down on VPNs.
The report said that Chinese Internet users suspect that the government has tampered with VPN, which they have been using to circumvent the ‘Great Firewall’.
The users said that since 6 May, many sites, including Google and MSN, had become difficult to access. New firewalls had reportedly blocked Apple’s App Store as well.