The website of a government internet censor in Hunan was attacked by hackers yesterday in what appears to be retaliation by disgruntled internet users who failed to get websites approved.
From about 6pm, the homepage of the Hunan Communications Administration website was defaced with the message: 'I am fed up - I've tried to register my website for several months. Why haven't they approved it yet? Have they already gone home for the Lunar New Year?'
The message stayed on the site for an hour. Repeated telephone calls to the administration went unanswered last night.
'I think it's an expression of dissatisfaction from people who failed to have their websites approved,' said Zhou Shuguang, a well-known blogger. 'It is a show of anger.'
People who wish to register websites on the mainland face draconian regulations which require them to obtain a plethora of approvals from various government departments.
Different levels of communications administrations act as supervisory authorities, empowered to approve websites as well as close those that are deemed 'unhealthy'.
The popular website sina.com has about 10 different licences from government authorities for providing a wide range of internet services.
Internet users on the mainland are facing an increasingly restrictive environment. Last month, a new regulation banned users from registering personal domain names.
The regulation says internet service providers are no longer allowed to host individually owned websites, and that only businesses with licences or government-authorised organisations may now have websites.
The authorities said the measure stemmed from concern over widespread pornographic content on personal websites, although critics say it is yet another example of government restriction of internet freedom.