CANTV, a telecommunication company controlled by the Venezuelan government, has reportedly launched a censorship program against Bitcoin websites, knocking them offline for about four hours.
According to NewsBTC Latin America, Venezuelan Bitcoin users are reportedly having trouble accessing a number of popular digital currency websites, including local Latin American exchanges like BlinkTrade, BitInka and SurBTC, as well as larger international exchanges, like Bitstamp, Blockchain, BTC-e and Coinbase.
The Venezuelan Bitcoin community first started reporting the outages on a Facebook group. Soon, a CoinDesk analysis revealed that the error was most likely the result of an Internet service provider (ISP) issue, but it also may have been an error at the distributed DNS services provider, too. Soon, local reports connected the problem to a DNS server from the state-owned ISP CANTV.
“The ISP [CANTV] is very well known by their blockades to any website that doesn’t follow the Government’s endless rules or are suspected to be supporting any kind of opposition against the Socialist government,” said one Reddit user, as reported by NewsBTC.
The Internet is — after all — a fickle place. Company websites need to provide visitors with a call to action in three seconds or less if they want to gain leads. So by getting these sites offline for hours, the attack not only stopped bitcoin exchanges for that period of time, but also discouraged users from even going to those websites.
Recently, the Venezuelan media has been discussing the importance of the crypto-currency to the debt-struck economy of Venezuela. Harsh restrictions on the accessibility of foreign currencies on top of the ongoing inflation of Venezuela’s economy have motivated people to hedge their income in an asset that can be quickly and easily stored and transferred online. Essentially, Bitcoin is a natural solution to Venezuela’s economic woes.
During the issue, local exchange SurBitcoin produced a Facebook thread informing users of available tricks that would allow them to circumvent the potential censorship, such as Proxy servers and IP obfuscation, granting them access to the blocked content.