For one Internet service provider, China Mobile Hong Kong, disconnection – of a type known as a fall action – indicates a direct involvement of the telecommunications company. “Action is a specially configured element of a DNS firewall,” Mr April said. “This is not something the owner could configure, intentionally or accidentally.”
China Mobile Hong Kong, a division of China Mobile, a Chinese state-owned company, declined to comment. Two others tested by the Times, SmarTone and Hutchison Telecommunications, which are controlled by local conglomerates, did not respond to requests for comment by email.
While blocking the site resembles the censorship of mainland China at a glance, the methods differ sharply from China’s sophisticated system.
With China Mobile, SmarTone, and Hutchison, the process of associating a website address with a series of numbers that a computer uses to search for it has been disrupted. The practice would be similar to indicating an incorrect number under someone’s name in a telephone directory. If you know the right number for this person, you can still call him.
Unlike mainland China, the Great Firewall’s hardware – as Beijing’s filter and block system is known – actively crosses connections. When comparing the phonebook, the call will not pass, even if you have the correct phone number.
The Hong Kong blockades are “really easy to get around and awkward,” said Mr Cui, a professor. Still, he said, authorities may not want to control the Internet as tightly as Beijing, for fear of intimidating global banks and international companies that have turned the city into an Asian headquarters.