China Takes The Great Firewall Up A Notch By Blocking An Entire Content Delivery Network
from the collateral-damage dept
It is hardly news that China is blocking Web sites — it’s so common these days that it has become almost proverbial. But hitherto, it has done it in a very targeted manner so as to minimize collateral damage that might hamper its citizens’ access to other key parts of the Internet. The Greatfire.org blog is reporting that, for the first time, China has started blocking one of the Internet’s biggest content delivery networks (CDN) — EdgeCast — with major knock-on effects:
The Chinese censorship authorities have DNS poisoned *edgecastcdn.net, which means all subdomains of edgecastcdn.net are blocked in China. EdgeCast is one of the largest Content Delivery Networks (CDN) in the world and provides its cloud services to thousands of websites and apps in China.
According to the blog post, this is being done specifically to block Greatfire.org’s mirrors of sites censored in China, which are hosted in the cloud:
We have acknowledged all along that our method of unblocking websites using “collateral freedom” hinges on the gamble that the Chinese authorities will not block access to global CDNs because they understand the value of China being integrated with the global internet. However, we can now reveal publicly that the authorities are doing just that — attempting to cut China off from the global internet.
In other words, if the Greatfire.org analysis is correct, the Chinese authorities have decided that it is more important to block these cloud-based mirrors than it is to maintain access to key sites. The blog post lists Drupal.org, Mozilla’s addons.cdn.mozilla.net and Gravatar, which is used by many websites to show images, as among the important Web sites that have been affected. As Greatfire.org points out, this is not a particularly good moment to increase censorship in this way:
If the authorities did not anticipate what damage the blocking of EdgeCast would inflict, they have likely been alerted by the many companies that use EdgeCast in China. This action comes at a bad time for the Chinese authorities. This week, they are hosting the World Internet Conference and the blocking of EdgeCast will likely be a hot topic of discussion.
That might mean we will see EdgeCast being unblocked during the World Internet Conference, so as to avoid embarrassing questions being asked. But even if that does happen, we can probably expect to see the DNS poisoning to resume as soon as the delegates have packed their bags and left China.