Change.org, an online human rights activist organization, is complaining
that it is the victim of cyber-attacks from China aiming to bring the
site down to stop readers from signing a petition demanding the release
of artist Ai Weiwei.
Ai, one of China's most famous artists, was
detained on April 3 in Beijing as he was about to board an airplane for
Hong Kong. His whereabouts have been undetermined since. Although
Chinese news sites have indicated he would be charged with economic
crimes, his arrest is universally assumed to be because of protests he
has led over substandard construction that left 5,000 children dead in
an earthquake two years ago, among other issues.
hackers may have brought down the site, it remains off the Internet
because of a problem that originated with the Internet retailing giant
Amazon.com. The Change.org site Friday night Hong Kong time said it is
down because its servers are connected to Amazon, whose hosting fees are
some of the cheapest. Amazon's EC2 web-hosting service suffered a
technical problem that took some of the web's biggest social media sites
offline. Amazon is the world's biggest cloud-computing provider.
website said most of its services are operating normally although some
cloud computer operations operating from northern Virginia remain
offline because of problems.
Change.org runs petitions on a
variety of social change issues including gay rights, women's rights,
animal welfare and others. The petition demanding Ai's freedom had
garnered nearly 100,000 signatures, according to a release by
Change.org. The organization said it has been attacked repeatedly by
Chinese hackers over the last year.
the past three days, the Change.org website has been repeatedly
targeted by cyber attacks coming from China that aim to bring our site
down, which would keep people from signing the petition, the
organization said in a press release." Our engineers are working
around the clock to fend off the attacks and, for now, the petition is
still up. We need to let the Chinese government know that illegal
tactics from within its borders won't stop the mounting pressure on them
to release Weiwei."
Attempts to reach Change.org were
unsuccessful. However, Ben Rattray, Change.org's chief executive
officer, told the Bloomberg news service that attacks on the site over
the past three days originated from Chinese Internet addresses. Ratray
told Bloomberg that Change.org had reported the attacks to US government
agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Wufeng, chief of the Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau of
China's State Council, or cabinet, didn't return a call to his office
seeking comment, Bloomberg said.
Change.org's campaign "has
helped to give rise to an international outcry," the organization said
in its press release. "Political leaders around the world are calling
for Weiwei's release and activists have organized peaceful protests at
Chinese embassies and consulates. Though China is desperate to silence
its critics, the pressure to free Weiwei continues to grow. You can help
by signing the petition now: www.change.org/petitions/call-for-the-release-of-ai-weiwei
warned that because of the repeated attacks the site might be slower
than usual or unavailable over the next few days. The press release did
not mention the Amazon.com problem.