For years, the Chinese government has been a world leader in cyber censorship. Over a dozen government ministries are reportedly involved in the efforts to monitor internet use by Chinese citizens, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic websites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who run afoul of political sensitivities. These efforts together make up what is commonly referred to as China’s Great Firewall.
Researchers from four independent organizations, the University of Toronto’s “Citizen Lab,” the International Computer Science Institute, the University of California-Berkeley, and Princeton University each reported that the Chinese government has activated a new IT capability that can blast targeted webservers with massive“distributed denial of services attacks,” which can overwhelm them and cause them to crash.
This, the researchers concluded, was what happened recently to two online servers aimed at circumventing China’s Great Firewall and allowing Chinese citizens access to information their government deems unacceptable.One was Greatfire.org, a non-profit group outside China bent on fighting censorship; the other allowed people to read the New York Times in Mandarin.
Acting State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jeff Rathke said the United States is concerned by reports “that China has used a new cyber capability to interfere with the ability of worldwide internet users to access content hosted outside of China.”
“We have asked Chinese authorities to investigate this activity and provide us with the results of their investigation. At the same time,” he added, “we’re working with all willing partners to enhance cyber security, promote norms of acceptable state behavior in cyber space and to protect the principle of freedom of expression online.”
The United States, Mr. Rathke emphasized, “is committed to protecting the internet as an open platform on which all people can innovate, learn, organize, communicate, free from censorship or interference. And we believe a global, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet is essential to realizing this objective.”