During the SOPA fight, at one point, we brought up the fact that increases in encryption were going to make most of the bill meaningless and ineffective in the long run, someone closely involved in trying to make SOPA a reality said that this wasn't a problem because the next
bill he was working on is one that would ban encryption. This, of course, was pure bluster and hyperbole from someone who was apparently both unfamiliar with the history of fights over encryption in the US, the value and importance of encryption for all sorts of important internet activities (hello online banking!), as well as the simple fact that "banning" encryption isn't quite as easy as you might think. Still, for a guide on one attempt, that individual might want to take a look over at China, where VPN usage has become quite common to get around the Great Firewall. In response, it appears that some ISPs are now looking to block traffic that they believe is going through encrypted means
A number of companies providing "virtual private network" (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to "learn, discover and block" the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
China Unicom, one of the biggest telecoms providers in the country, is now killing connections where a VPN is detected, according to one company with a number of users in China.
Of course, there are countless ways to encrypt traffic, so all this really does is spur a cat and mouse game -- and the best that can be done is having the system block any traffic that it can't understand. Of course, once you go that far, you're in for a lot of trouble, because there's just a ton of legitimate content you're going to block, pissing off a lot of people. Also, as this game goes on, it'll just spur people to encrypt traffic in a matter that looks identifiable
, but which really is not identifiable. Fighting against encryption is a game that can't be won in the long term.