Thursday, April 12, 2012

China goes offline, for a while

Internet users in China found themselves unable to access any foreign websites for about an hour Thursday morning (local time), prompting speculation that China's extensive censorship system was being tested or tightened.
  China's "great firewall" regularly blocks many sites hosted in other countries, but web users in many areas reported they were unable to reach any foreign sites at all - even "approved" websites.  At about the same time, there were reports from Hong Kong (which lies outside the "great firewall") and elsewhere that web users were unable to access any websites hosted on the Chinese mainland.
  While there was no immediate official recognition or explanation offered for the service interruption, one high official at a major Chinese internet portal suggested it was a result of a technical failure in the backbone network.  Others suggested it might have been a result of a software upgrade in backbone operations, or even an adjustment to the list of blocked foreign sites that got out of control.  Speculation that the disruption was intentional and related to official censorship efforts was fueled by a recent crackdown on "internet rumors" that had resulted in the removal of more than 200,000 online posts and the closure of more than 40 websites in the last month.
  China's connection to the outside Internet is funneled through three channels, making it easier to monitor and block international data flows.  Relying on only a few interconnections, however, also makes the system more vulnerable to a technical problem or failure at those key points.  Given their history, while Chinese authorities will eventually release an official explanation, speculation about the real cause will continue for a while.

Source - China's internet users temporarily blocked from foreign websites, The Guardian (UK)

edit track - fixed link to source article


  1. This is an incredibly weird situation. Especially when one tries to impact the censorship going on in China. Google and GoDaddy both boycotted China a year or so ago. I don't know if that is still going on. It's also interesting to see if governments will eventually try to flex national muscle on the issue.

    But then again, we just had our own outrage at SOPA here in the states. I think as the internet grows in China they will have to create more of those links to the outside internet in order to ensure it's consistent operation. As they become more industrialized I think they'll begin to establish more of these connections making it more difficult to censor its citizens.

  2. You're right, this is really strange. I don't think SOPA will ever get as big as this is, but I could see people setting this as a possibility if we allow internet freedom to decrease. I don wonder how this would effect the economy in China. It seems like this strict censorship could hurt advertising and in turn hurt the economy.