Neo-Nazi website influencing Buffalo shooter with .cn domain registered through proxy company and not subject to government content review

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: CGV

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

The Global Times has discovered through public information and interviews that such accusations are completely false. The website was actually registered by its founder through a proxy company after being blocked by various countries and its information was not strictly subject to content review by Chinese government bodies. The site was taken offline after the Buffalo shooting.

Media reports say the site, Daily Stormer, was created by a far-right American neo-Nazi named Andrew Anglin. He also created a website called Total Fascism before creating this webpage.

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

Since then, Anglin has continued to research 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 obtain a local country domain, but his requests were all canceled. after the others. Therefore, he turned to the Chinese internet.

Although domain names registered in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in China in 2017 and 2018 were subsequently shut down, Anglin again registered another .cn domain name on April 9 this year by through a Chinese company that had no knowledge of 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 Daily Stormer website or of its owner.

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

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

Moreover, the Daily Stormer website might 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 which is why the Guangdong-based company appears as the “reporter” on the Daily Stormer’s. registration information, rather than the actual owner, Andrew Anglin.

CNNIC staff said it will conduct random checks on websites registered with “.cn” domain names, including examining such websites for inappropriate content.

However, due to a large volume of inspections, it is usually done on site. But if they receive a report, they will investigate immediately, according to CNNIC staff.

Observers say the incident should prompt China to further improve its policies and regulations, monitor public opinion and prevent similar forces from infiltrating the Chinese internet to spread extremist ideas and pollute cyberspace and society.