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Google bans VPNs from buying banner ads in China


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 22, 2019 | 3 min read

Virtual private networks (VPN) in China are banned from buying banner ads on Google, according to the tech giant.


Google told a VPN company that Google Ads could not let it advertise in China.

While most of Google’s products are banned in the country, it conducts artificial intelligence research and helps brands buy ads for their websites.

According to Inkstone, even though VPNs are essential for Chinese Internet users to bypass the Great Firewall to use Google’s search engine, email and cloud services, as well as other foreign websites, Google told a VPN company that Google Ads could not let it advertise in China.

In response, a Google spokesperson said this practice is not new. The spokesperson added that it has a long-standing policy prohibiting ads in its network for private servers in countries where such servers are illegal and all advertisers have to comply with local laws.

The Chinese government has clamped down on VPNs in recent times, fining a citizen for using a VPN app called Lantern to surf the websites under a 1997 public security law that forbids access to the 'foreign internet' without permission.

It also introduced another law in 2017 which stipulated that only government-approved providers could operate VPNs, leading Apple to remove 674 VPNs from its Chinese App Store.

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