China held a drill on Thursday with internet service providers to practice taking down websites deemed harmful, as the country’s censors tighten control ahead of a sensitive five-yearly political reshuffle set to take place later this year. Internet data centers (IDC) and cloud companies – which host website servers – were ordered to participate in a three-hour drill to hone their “emergency response” skills, according to at least four participants that included the operator of Microsoft’s cloud service in China.

China’s Ministry of Public Security called for the drill “in order to step up online security for the 19th Party Congress and tackle the problem of smaller websites illegally disseminating harmful information”, according to a document circulating online attributed to a cyber police unit in Guangzhou. An officer who answered the phone in the Guangzhou public security bureau confirmed the drill but declined to elaborate.  CONTINUE