Censorship to party congress: china interrupts google and tunnel services

Censorship to party congress: china interrupts google and tunnel services

According to experts, never before have so many people been affected by the blocking of a web service. Tunnel connections that allow unfiltered access to information from abroad are also attacked and paralyzed.

The interruption on google lasted about twelve hours until saturday morning. Apart from the search engine, gmail, maps and documents were also unavailable. "We checked, but there were no problems on our side," google told the german press agency in peking. According to the monitoring service greatfire.Org was "DNS poisoning". In this attack, the mapping between the "hostname" and the corresponding IP address is falsified.

The attack, according to experts, was not an accident, but well-considered. The timing on friday evening could suggest that a complete "google blockade" was being tested. For fear of an emotional reaction from the many gmail users in china, the authorities have so far refrained from blocking the site. "Maybe now they wanted to test how important people think access to google is, to come to a decision whether to permanently block it in the future," greatfire analyzed.Org.

The attacks demonstrate a new technical sophistication of the "great firewall" in china, according to experts. In contradiction to the cyber attacks, the propaganda headline on saturday: "party congress reacts positively to the age of the internet."

The party congress, held only every five years, is the first in the age of social networks. In the run-up, serious corruption scandals and power struggles had shaken the party. An increased army of censors is combing the twitter-like microblogs called "weibo" for unwelcome content. The approximately 2300 delegates will initiate a change of leadership.

69-year-old party leader hu jintao is replaced by vice president xi jinping, who is ten years younger than him. His new leadership team, which has been the subject of fierce wrangling, is to be unveiled on thursday. Since the reports about the wealth of the families of xi jinping and head of government wen jiabao, the websites of the "new york times" and the news agency bloomberg are blocked. The party congress filters have further slowed down the already slow speed of the internet in china.

Attacks on tunnel services have also reached an unprecedented level of scale. With these VPN (virtual private network) connections, users in china can bypass the blockages. How to use social networks blocked in china like facebook and twitter or the video portal youtube. There is a boom in these services, which cost the equivalent of 50 to 80 euros a year.

But international companies in china also use such VPN tunnels for their internal networks and are suffering from the disruptions. "It’s bad," a manager of a rough german car manufacturer told dpa in peking. "After a short time, it keeps interrupting."

After baidu, google is only the second grossest search engine in china, but pays among the top five websites in the country. With more than 500 million internet users in china, google has many millions of chinese users. The company had moved its servers from china to hong kong in 2010 to avoid having to censor its own search results. Anyone who enters politically sensitive search terms from china usually ends up in front of a blank screen. After that, other services such as gmail are often temporarily blocked as well.


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