China Hijacks Popular BitTorrent Sites

China is not new to censoring the Internet, but up until now, BitTorrent sites have never been blocked. Recently however, several reports came in from China, indicating that popular BitTorrent sites such as Mininova, isoHunt and The Pirate Bay had been hijacked. The sites became inaccessible, instead redirecting to the leading Chinese search engine Baidu.

chineseflagJust a week ago, reports came in that China had started to ban 10 video hosting sites, allegedly because of “regulations violations”. Other sites, including China’s largest eDonkey indexing site, VeryCD, received warnings. A few days later, however, VeryCD users found that their favorite eDonkey site was redirected to the Chinese search engine – Baidu.com.

It soon became apparent that VeryCD was not the only P2P website to be hijacked. A host of BitTorrent sites, including Mininova, isoHunt and The Pirate Bay were also affected. People in the Beijing area who attempted to access the sites were promptly redirecting to Baidu, China’s Google.

The domain hijacks continued for more than two days straight, but were lifted yesterday. According to some sources, there was never an attempt to censor the BitTorrent sites, claiming that a DNS error cause the problems. This doesn’t seem very plausible though, as the diversions almost exclusively involved P2P related sites, which are hosted right across the globe. Also, DNS issues can’t explain why all the P2P sites were suddenly redirected to another website.

Mininova co-founder Niek, whose domain was also redirected to Baidu told TorrentFreak: “We had the questionable honor of joining Wikipedia and YouTube on the list of websites that (at some point) were censored in China. Fortunately the people in charge made the right decision, and realized that blocking a search engine like Mininova wasn’t such a good idea.”

“I’m happy to see that the block is removed now, though it would be nice to talk to the people who made this decision so we can understand their motives,” Niek added. The true reason behind the hijack attempt will probably never come to light. Most importantly, the ‘problems’ are resolved now, and all BitTorrent sites are accessible again.

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