China's well-known for its long and illustrious history of censoring the web. But rather than just blocking sites, it's now employing some rather strange techniques—which means the online home of a small pet spa in Miami is receiving an insane number of hits every day.
New Scientist has taken a peek inside the sinister world of Chinese web censoring, and it makes for fascinating reading. Richard Fisher explains that, far from simply blocking websites, Chinese authorities are employing all kinds of techniques to prevent their population from seeing the real web.
Often that involves subtle tricks, like giving the appearance of a slow internet connection. But sometimes the country uses DNS poisoning, which employs cheeky redirection to throw up a website that wasn't requested. In particular, a Miami pet spa, known as The Pet Club, is one of the chosen sites. New Scientist explains:
[W]hen people in China try to access torproject.org – a tool that prevents online tracking – they instead often get the IP address of thepetclubfl.net...
No one knows why the censors picked The Pet Club's website. Until now, Dennis Bost of Universal Merchant Solutions in Hollywood, Florida, who set up the website for the salon owners, had been puzzled by the web traffic he'd been seeing. "I'm amazed at the number of hits they get from China," he says. "They're a grooming salon. No one is popping over from Beijing to have their Shar Pei groomed."
Sounds likes a good idea, if you're a Chinese official hell-bent on censoring the web without generating too much suspicion. Or at least, it used to seem like a good idea: let's hope, for the sake of China's online community, that Gizmodo and New Scientist aren't routed to The Pet Club, too. [New Scientist]