Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission
(06 December 2002)

Subject: Webjacking used by the Chinese authorities to block unwelcome sites

According to reports from Dynamic Internet Technology Inc (DIT) - the technological partner of Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Epoch Times - a few months ago the authorities in the People's Republic of China adopted a new strategy for blocking sites of which they do not approve. The technical name for the method used is 'webjacking', in which an Internet address is hijacked so as to divert the user to another site. This is done at Chinese ISP (Internet Service Provider) level by tampering with the domain name system (DNS), the Internet registry which converts each address (which is unique throughout the world) from an alphanumeric to a numeric format (for example, the address corresponds to IP What happens in practice is that, throughout China, the DNS 'wrongly resolves' the address of the site to be blocked, sending the user (who is unaware of what is happening) to a false IP address. This system enables users wishing to access a whole range of Internet sites to be diverted to a single address which is then blocked at the main Chinese firewall.

Does the Commission intend to ask the Chinese authorities for clarifications about the use of such practices in China? If they are used, how does it intend to go about ensuring that the Chinese Government stops using them, given the economic and political damage the widespread use of such censure tools can cause? If it does not already have such means at its disposal, does it intend to acquire means of safeguarding the interests of EU citizens and associations against such interference by the People's Republic of China?

Réponse donnée par M. Patten
au nom de la Commission
(4 février 2003)

La Commission partage les préoccupations de l'honorable parlementaire relatives aux conditions d'accès à Internet et à son utilisation en République Populaire de Chine. Ce point a fait l'objet d'interventions répétées de sa part auprès des autorités chinoises, dans le cadre notamment du dialogue bilatéral Union-Chine sur les droits de l'homme, s'agissant plus particulièrement des atteintes à la liberté d'expression. Les informations que lui a fournies l'honorable parlementaire lui seront certainement très utiles dans la poursuite des contacts qu'elle entend maintenir et développer avec les autorités chinoises sur cette question spécifique.