Republicans Blocking International Access to Official Sites

The Republican Party appears to again be blocking Internet users from outside the United States from visiting its official web sites, with www.gop.com, www.rnc.org and www.GeorgeWBush.com all dropping traffic that originates outside North America. The timing and implementation of the blocking - which is now being provided through the political party's own web host rather than Akamai - suggests an ongoing interest in traffic filtering unrelated to the recent election.

The sites are all hosted by the Republican National Committee, the official site of America's governing party, which currently controls the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the White House. The blocking expands a practice implemented on the GeorgeWBush.com domain during the final week of the U.S. presidential campaign, when the Bush campaign site used Akamai's content management service to manage incoming traffic, citing security concerns.

On Nov. 24, the GeorgeWBush.com site stopped using Akamai and began having its domain name server (DNS) requests handled by the RNC's server, and redirecting traffic to the RNC's main site, gop.com. The RNC now appears to possess the capability to implement geographic blocking similar to the services Akamai provided for GeorgeWBush.com. Since Nov. 26, the rnc.org, gop.com and GeorgeWBush.com domains all show an identical pattern of failed requests from stations in London, Amsterdam and Sydney, while Netcraft's four U.S. monitoring stations show no performance problems.

GeorgeWBush.com Site Performance from Amsterdam GeorgeWBush.com Site Performance from New York

A dynamically updating chart of site performance for GeorgeWBush.com is available here.

The official campaign site for Bush's election campaign began restricting access on Oct. 25, citing unspecified security concerns. Bush defeated John Kerry in the U.S. vote Nov. 2, and the site restrictions were lifted five days after the election. The Bush campaign used Akamai's EdgeScape service, which allows web sites to customize content - or exclude visitors - according to geography. Criteria for geography-based content are set by the customer, and implemented by Akamai's network.

GeorgeWBush.com began using Akamai following a six hour outage on Oct. 19, which also affected RNC.org. The Oct. 19 outages have been widely assumed to be the result of some form of outside attack, such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS). The Bush campaign has never confirmed an attack, but cited security reasons for the site restrictions that followed. The expanded blocking of requests from outside the U.S. and Canada are bound to raise additional questions about the RNC's site management policies.