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China Limits Use of Encryption to Evade Great Firewall

FILE - Chinese Go player Ke Jie reacts during his second match against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo at the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, May 25, 2017.

China is clamping down on use of virtual private networks, or VPNs, in a move that foreign companies worry might disrupt their operations or jeopardize trade secrets.

In a letter to corporate customers seen by The Associated Press, the biggest Chinese internet service provider says virtual private networks will be permitted only to connect to a company’s headquarters abroad. Such systems create encrypted links between computers and can be used to see websites blocked by Beijing’s web filters.

The letter from state-owned China Telecom Ltd. says VPN users are barred from linking to other sites outside China. That might hamper access to news, social media or business services.

The measure reflects President Xi Jinping’s vision of “internet sovereignty,” or Beijing’s right to control what its people do online.