US' Web-hijacking claim is 'ridiculous'

08:50, November 18, 2010      

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The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission pointed at China Telecom, saying that the company redirected about 15 percent of the world's Web traffic in April for 18 minutes through servers in China.Photo:Xinhua

IT experts in Beijing Wednesday blasted a report accusing a Chinese State-run telecom company of hijacking massive Internet traffic toward US military and government sites earlier this year.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission pointed at China Telecom, saying that the company redirected about 15 percent of the world's Web traffic in April for 18 minutes through servers in China, according to US-based ABC News, which obtained a draft copy of the report.

The report was submitted to US Congress and was scheduled to be published in the US this morning.

Chinese experts call such assertion "ridiculous and unreasonable," as they say the United States, with the world's most advanced technology, controls the majority of the digital information flow.

It affected Internet traffic toward websites, including those of government-owned sites such as the office of the secretary of defense, NASA and four military branches - the army, navy, marine corps and air force - as well as commercial sites such like Yahoo, Dell and Microsoft, the ABC News report said, citing the draft.

The Internet visits to these websites, most of which originated in the US, should have gone through the shortest available route instead of via China, according to the draft.

"Although the commission has no way to determine what, if anything, the Chinese telecommunications firm did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications. This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites," according to the draft.

"Any attempt to do this would likely be counter to the interests of the United States and other countries," it added.

Song Guixiang, chief press officer at China Telecom, told the Global Times by phone Wednesday that she had taken note of the media reports, and the company was investigating the situation.

An engineer with China Telecom, who declined to be named, told the Global Times Wednesday that it is absurd to allege that an Internet service provider could disrupt the world's Internet traffic by rerouting 15 percent of it through its own servers, since such a vast amount of information would greatly lag the operation of the servers or even paralyze it.

Lü Benfu, director of the Internet Development Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that "there are nine major routers in the world, and eight of them are in the US and one is in Europe. The Web information flow is controlled by the US, while China just holds a branch line of the global traffic. So this kind of accusation is technically unfeasible."

By Zhu Shanshan, Global Times
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