A La Meltdown Mode: Telecoms Giant Orange Blocks French Gov't Website by Mistake

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Questions are being asked why communications company Orange blocked access to Google, Wikipedia and web host OVH.com in France, after wrongly adding a bulk of legitimate domain names to its terrorism censor list.

The list included names of websites accessed through Google and Wikipedia that contained content directly connected with carrying out terror attacks — or celebrating acts of terror.

When customers of cellphone provider Orange tried to search through the browsers, they were redirected to a notification page hosted by the Ministry of Interior's server and told they were stuck there, "because you tried to connect to a site whose content encourages terrorism, or publicly condones terrorism."

Then, after millions of users had been inadvertently redirected to the French government's website — it crashed — in what's commonly called a "Denial of Service" (DoS) attack.

​​In 2014, France's anti-terror law was updated to give police the authority to block any Internet traffic advocating terrorism. The following year, 2015, was marked by a terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris which saw France adopt new powers allowing intelligence and police authorities' access to communications data stored on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in France.

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France remains on high alert following a series of terrorist related attacks on the country, which includes the authorities keeping up with any terrorist related material discovered on domains on the World Wide Web.

'Human Error'

Orange told French newspaper, Le Monde, the mistake was down to a configuration mistake that redirected all users hoping to browse Google to the Interior Ministry's site that crashed after too many people were deemed to be accessing terrorist related material — which answers, "le question" that the DoS was down to human error.

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