THE GLORIOUS Great Firewall of China caused a total web blackout in that country yesterday, possibly as a chilling example of what could happen.
The Great Firewall blocks a lot of what the Chinese government thinks is unsavoury content, but would be normal for everyone else, and gobbles up dissent and criticism like duck dumplings. Yesterday, thanks to a software glitch, it blocked the entire internet for two hours.
No one in China could do anything online for that 120 minute period, and some people outside the country could not access major Chinese web sites like Baidu.
There is some speculation about the downtime because there is no official line. It could have been intentional, or an experiment to see how much fuss was caused by a total lockdown, but that is perhaps extreme. It could also have been hacked, or maybe it was just a big software cockup.
This week hackers associated with Anonymous said that they are chipping away at the Great Firewall of China but expected that an actual suspension of services could take some time.
Another possibility is that it went down during or after an upgrade to reinforce the bamboo curtain. China's iron boot did make some moves this week, shutting down a range of controversial, to it, web sites and web posts. Perhaps it took a wild swing before falling back into its usual stride. µ