VPN installs in Hong Kong have shot up 150 times over the last seven days amid concern over increased surveillance and censorship from China.
That's according to user data from Atlas VPN, a free virtual private network that launched in January.
Internet access in Hong Kong is currently unrestricted and uncensored. Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and many other websites and applications which are banned in mainland China are available. But a recently proposed national security law threatens to block these as well as many other websites and services.
Atlas VPN said this explains a sudden surge in interest in its services in Hong Kong. It said the number of organic VPN installs in Hong Kong increased by over 150 times from May 17 to May 24.
The rise in downloads and installs started on May 21, as the news about the new law began to spread worldwide. In just a single day, the number of installs surged by 520%, compared to the day before, the service said.
The next day, on May 22, installs jumped even higher, and there were 210% more downloads than the previous day, Atlas VPN said.
"People in Hong Kong are worried that they will lose their right to unrestricted internet access," the service said. "Atlas VPN, among others, believes that everyone should have the right to use the internet without censorship and surveillance."
Google trends data shows similar results concerning Hong Kong citizens’ interest in VPNs. VPN search term interest in Hong Kong rocketed by 1,680%, comparing May 20 to May 21. Hongkongers reached a record-high in the “VPN” keyword Google queries on May 22.