Chinese authorities have sentenced a local man named Wu Xiangyang to five years and six months in prison for running an unsanctioned VPN service.
Police arrested Wu earlier this year for running a website that offered access to a VPN service that helped users bypass the country's national firewall technology.
VPN providers must apply for a permit with state officials. Wu, a resident of the Pingnan county of the Guangxi Zhuang region, failed to do so, according to local press citing a press release from China's Ministry of Justice.
Wu also received a fine of 500,000 yuan, worth around $75,000. Authorities said the man ran his VPN service from 2013 to June this year, had over 8,000 customers, and made over 790,000 yuan ($120,000) from his business.
Wu is the second man to go to jail for running an unlicensed VPN service in China after authorities sentenced another man earlier this year to nine months in prison. His prison sentence is viewed as an escalation in China's crackdown on illegal VPN services.
Officially, China does not block VPN software, but VPN providers must register with the government and get a permit.
In January 2017, Chinese authorities said they would launch a 14-months-long coordinated campaign to take down all unauthorized VPN providers.
In July 2017, Apple removed tens of VPN apps from the Chinese version of the App Store.