Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Kill Switch: Is China Testing Internet Off Button?

Temporary blackouts today left millions of China’s Internet users unable to access many Chinese web sites as well as other unblocked foreign sites that they have been free to read in the past.

The outages come only a week after cyber-activist group Anonymous hacked almost five hundred Chinese web sites, including many of those belonging to the government. The mysterious outage was not limited to just China however, as similar blackouts were reported in Hong Kong as well as in Japan. At first, there was speculation that a powerful 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia on Wednesday may have shifted undersea cables, creating the blackout. Chinese Telecom later confirmed that the earthquake had not damaged the cables.

Speculation then turned to perhaps a temporary blip in the system, but the Telecom insisted this was not the case, either. Which has many people around the world guessing that the Chinese government has made a dry run of specific protocols to knock out the Internet should civil unrest, descent and protests start to take place in the Communist nation. The measures could also be put into place in the event of a war.

Two weeks ago, rumors of a coup movement within China began to spread across the Internet. The Chinese government quickly moved in to squash the rumors, sparking arrests and the closing of several web sites affiliated with anti-government sentiment. Recent years have seen countries such as Iran and Egypt employ "kill switch" tactics to take down the Internet during times of strife and political turmoil.

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