Did censors accidentally shut down the Internet in China?
The Internet in China was temporarily shutdown earlier in January, with many people believing the country's strict online censorship policy being its cause.
The sheer size of cyberspace makes it an incredibly difficult network to monitor and control. With new websites popping up everyday, there is an increasingly massive amount of content online. However, this has not deterred numerous governments from trying to prevent citizens from seeing certain kinds of content.
These endeavors are deplorable for a number of reasons. For one, it violates citizens' rights to information and also limits the right to free speech. On top of these restrictions, it is an incredibly large task for a government to successfully complete, and as the Chinese government has learned, can cause major difficulties.
Major Internet outage
The country recently saw the Internet go out for a number of users throughout the country. While the Chinese government goes to great lengths to limit what people can and cannot access, many of the most popular websites in China were rendered in accessible, according to the New York Times.
Popular social media sites in the country like Sina Weibo were inaccessible for as much as 66 percent of the Internet traffic in China. Instead of being able to arrive at the desired website, users were redirected to the homepage of Dynamic Internet Technology, a company that had developed a software tool to help users in China to bypass the strict Internet controls in the country.
Who is to blame?
There is a lot of speculation as to how these kinds of infractions could have occurred. The Times noted that the Chinese government has blamed the incident on hackers, using it as another reason to justify the strict censorship and regulation policies that are in place. The AFP reported that the official China Internet Network Information Center said the outage was caused by a glitch in the root server for many of the major domain names in the country.
However, the news source noted that Greatfire.org, a major watchdog for the Internet in China, believes that the outage was caused by the country's major firewall used to regulate the Internet. Greatfire.org pointed to technical tests that indicated hacking would not have been able to cause an outage of that size.
The religious group Falun Gong, which has been banned in China since 1999, has also been blamed for the outage by the government.
Regardless of how the outage occurred, it is apparent that the Great Firewall of China has been either the target or cause of the outage. This not only shows that these government actions to limit Internet access are not only freedom suppressing, but even technically vulnerable.