Chinese government officials have moved to justify a recent web censorship campaign that blocked access to thousands of websites.
China's state council vice premier, Ma Kai, argued at the World Internet Conference that the government's censorship spree is justified as the internet is too dangerous to leave unmoderated, according to reports on Reuters.
"The internet is a double-edged sword. Well used, it's Ali Baba's treasure. Poorly used, it's Pandora's box," he said.
"Cyber security is a shared challenge faced by human society. Effectively dealing with it is a shared responsibility for all governments."
China's internet chief and director of the State Internet Information Office, Lu Wei, mirrored Ma's sentiments, arguing that cyber space should have "rules to follow".
The comments follow the discovery a fresh censorship campaign by the Chinese government.
GreatFire.org reported on the censorship in a public statement, warning that the Beijing government has already cut off access to thousands of websites, applications and cloud services.
"The Chinese censorship authorities have DNS poisoned edgecastcdn.net, which means all subdomains of edgecastcdn.net are blocked in China," read the statement.
"We have seen instances of ‘collateral damage' due to ‘collateral freedom' over the past few days and have received emails from some smaller website owners wondering why their non-sensitive sites are being blocked by the great firewall."
Edgecast is owned by Verizon and is one of the largest content delivery networks (CDNs) in the world. The firm provides content and services to thousands of websites and apps in China.
Edgecast confirmed that it is aware of the censorship campaign and is working on a resolution, adding that it could not understand the thinking behind the Chinese government's choice of targets.
"This week we've seen the filtering escalate with an increasing number of popular web properties impacted and even one of our many domains being partially blocked, with no rhyme or reason as to why," said Edgecast in a statement.
"For those of our customers who are frustrated by this, we share your frustration, as does the whole content delivery and hosting industry.
"Rest assured that we stay committed to working with our global ISP partners and will do our best to mitigate the effects of these filtering policies."
GreatFire.org said that, while the exact motivation behind the blocks remains unclear, the clampdown is indicative of a wider move by the Chinese government to control its citizens' access to the internet.
"We have acknowledged all along that our method of unblocking websites using ‘collateral freedom' hinges on the gamble that the Chinese authorities will not block access to global CDNs because they understand the value of China being integrated with the global internet," the censorship monitoring organisation noted.
"However, we can now reveal publicly that the authorities are doing just that - attempting to cut China off from the global internet."
The censorship campaign comes one day before China is due to host the World Internet Conference. The conference, taking place in China's eastern Zhejiang Province, is intended to showcase China's growth and power in the global technology industry.
The blocks also come just weeks after a separate report from GreatFire.org revealed that the Chinese government is spying on Apple users.
GreatFire.org reported uncovering evidence that the Chinese government is targeting Apple iCloud customers with sophisticated man-in-the-middle attacks following the local launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on 20 October.
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