China’s Great Firewall restricts Chinese internet users to access a number of websites and apps that include US-based tech giants like Facebook, Google, and others that have made Chinese users access these websites using VPNs and other methods to bypass the Great Firewall.
A new tool from China named Tuber now allows users to access YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and other internet services without the need for extra efforts to bypass the Great Firewall in China.
Tuber is a mobile web browser launched earlier this week on China’s third-party Android app stores that offers a scrolling feed of YouTube videos on its landing page with tabs at the bottom to access other internet services that are restricted through the Great Firewall of China.
While the app allows access for Chinese users to the restricted internet world some users have noticed that the app comes in with a veil of censorship like sensitive political keywords such as “Tiananmen” and “Xi Jinping” are not found on the app as per the test done by TechCrunch.
It comes in with some mandatory rules to be followed to access the app like the registration requires a Chinese phone number, the company could suspend a user’s account and share their data “with the relevant authorities” if they “actively watch or share” content that breaches the constitution, endangers national security and sovereignty, spreads rumors, disrupts social orders or violates other local laws, as per the app’s terms of service.
The motive behind an app getting approval to access restricted web services and the technology the service used to bypass China’s censorship engine is unclear. The app’s official website (上海丰炫信息技术有限公司) lists that it is 70% owned by a subsidiary of Qihoo 360, a Chinese cybersecurity software giant.
Much about the service remain unclear, such as its origin, the motive behind it, and the technology it uses to get past China’s elaborate censorship engine. The operator of the app’s official website (上海丰炫信息技术有限公司) is 70% owned by a subsidiary of Qihoo 360, a Chinese cybersecurity software giant, according to business registration information.
Qihoo 360 also owns Sgreennet, a mobile and web browser that allows users to access censored foreign websites, the company claims of using VPN encryption technologies to secure user’s data “no one to track, collect or share a user’s private data.” Qihoo 360 has a tainted status in China as the company has suffered many challenges over its user data protection and anti-competitive tactics.
Sgreennet allows users to skip ads, stream Netflix content, download high-definition videos with just a minimal ~$50 annual fee.
Since the app was published on third-party Android app stores the app has attracted over 10 million downloads that include over 5 million from Huawei’s App Gallery in China, but the app has been removed from the Huawei App Gallery and the installed app has stopped functioning with a “undergoing a system upgrade” message on the app screen.