Neo-Nazi website influencing Buffalo shooter with .cn domain registered through proxy company and not under govt content review
Published: May 17, 2022 02:26 AM

Law enforcement officials are seen at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Photo: VCG
Law enforcement officials are seen at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Photo: VCG

In the aftermath of the world-shaking Buffalo shooting, the public discovered that the perpetrator, Payton Gendron, had posted online a 180-page plan before the crime, in which he claimed that a neo-Nazi website was also a strong influence. The website surprisingly had a .cn country code domain, which led some in the media and the public to accuse China of being involved in the incident and even "supporting the American far right and neo-Nazism."

The Global Times found through public information and interviews that such accusations are completely false. The website was in fact registered by its founder through a proxy company after being blocked by various countries and its information was not strictly under content review by the Chinese government organs. The site was taken offline after the Buffalo shooting.

Media reports indicate that the site, Daily Stormer, was set up by a far-right American neo-Nazi named Andrew Anglin. He also created a website called Total Fascism before setting up this web page.

In 2017, the domain name of Daily Stormer was blocked by the service provider of US Internet domains after Anglin publicly called out Trump's far-right supporters for running over an anti-Trump marcher with his car and insulting the victim on his website.

Since then, Anglin continued to search other countries where he could get a domain, without providing much information about himself or his website, in order to get this site back online.

Publicly available information shows that he approached domain name providers in Russia, Albania, Austria and Iceland among other countries to get a local country domain, but his requests were all cancelled one after another. Therefore, he turned to the Chinese internet.

Although the domain names registered in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in 2017 and 2018 were later closed, Anglin registered another .cn domain name again on April 9 this year through a Chinese company that had no knowledge about him or the content of his website.

The domain name provider, a Guangdong-based technology company that offers internet domain name registration services, told the Global Times that it had no knowledge of the nature of the website Daily Stormer or its owner.

However, the company immediately shut down the domain name resolution service provided to the website Daily Stormer after learning about the situation, according to media reports.

Besides, the Global Times has learned through the company and the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) that the Daily Stormer did not need to acquire ICP filing like domestic websites in China or face review of its content when registering a domain name since the servers and IP addresses of the website were located overseas.

Moreover, the website Daily Stormer could even hire a domestic domain name service provider in China to handle the identity authentication issue when registering a domain name, which is also the reason why the Guangdong-based company appears as the "registrant" on the Daily Stormer's registration information, rather than the real owner, Andrew Anglin.

Staff of the CNNIC said that they will conduct random checks on websites registered with ".cn" domain names, including examining these websites for inappropriate content.

However, due to a large volume of inspections, it is generally carried out on the spot. But if they receive a report, they will immediately investigate, according to CNNIC's staff .

Observers say that this incident should lead China to further improve its policies and regulations, monitor public opinion, and prevent similar forces from infiltrating China's internet to spread extremist ideas and pollute cyberspace and society.