China's internet became an intranet for about two hours on April 12. All internet users in China could not access to the World Wide Web and were cut off from all overseas social networking sites and email services. Netizens believe it is a testing of the web censor for the “Kill Switch”.
According to local report [zh], the overseas access problem happened between 10:40 am and 12:20 pm and internet users could not access popular websites such as MSN, Gmail and App Store during the period. At the same time, Internet users from overseas could not access Chinese websites. At first, netizens speculated that the problem were caused by the China Telecom's infrastructure as a result of the recent Southeast Asia earthquake. But both Telecom companies, China Telecom and China Unicom have denied that the network failure were caused by infrastructure problems. Hence local expert concluded that it was a software issue.
There were no official explanation from the government on the access problem yet. C. Custer from Techasia believes that what had happened:
was a test of a new government “kill switch” that would allow it to quickly block access to all foreign websites and disrupt the use of VPNs that previously made it possible to circumvent China’s internet censorship system. The fact that some small VPN providers weren’t blocked and continued to operate as usual seems to indicate that bigger VPNs were probably targeted intentionally, since a real infrastructure disconnect between China and the rest of the world would block all VPN traffic, not just traffic from more well-known VPN services.
In light of the recent upheaval in China’s leadership and the upcoming Party congress that will decide who leads the country for the next generation, it makes some sense that the government might be interested in an emergency off button in case something gets out of hand.
In Sina Weibo, there are some discussions about the news and many agree with the “kill switch” testing theory [zh]:
(Thumbnail photo from Setyoufreenews.)