Cyber-skirmish at the Top of the World
A report in Asia Times looks at efforts by Beijing to control Internet access in Tibetan areas:
Efforts in the sensitive Tibetan regions of China are more direct and draconian, especially in the context of heightened tensions following the unrest in March 2008.
Landline, cell and Internet services in Tibetan areas were interrupted during the period of unrest. When the Chinese government became aware that Tibetan dissidents were using the video-sharing website YouTube as a text-free method to communicate, it shut it down. When image-sharing website Flickr emerged as a potential source of visual information, it was blocked. Tibetan radio broadcasts by Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of Tibet were jammed. A campaign against satellite dishes was intensified to limit the audience of VOA’s direct-to-dish Tibet TV service. In order to cut off cell-phone based talk, text, and images, China reportedly limited service and tore down cell phone towers.
When confronting in cyberspace supporters of Tibetan dissidents located outside of China, the Chinese government is apparently abetted by a group of hackers, acting either pro bono or with government encouragement. The hackers disrupt websites, harass activists and, it transpires, organize extensive espionage operations against targeted computers around the world.