Google Disruption Resumes In China After Brief Respite

A glitch in the Great Firewall of China has been rapidly corrected after access to Google services was briefly allowed on Thursday.

But on Friday, access to Google is reportedly once again blocked for computer users in mainland China.

Great Firewall Glitch?

Google services, as well as other foreign services such as Flickr and Microsoft OneDrive have reportedly experienced significant disruption in China for over a month now, since the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in early June 1989.

Google search, maps, email, and online advertising services have been rendered almost inaccessible for users in China, reported Reuters. It said that Google had declined to comment on the matter.

It quoted the China-based anti-censorship group GreatFire.org as saying that Google services appeared once again to be inaccessible within China. The group claimed that China’s ‘Great Firewall’ had experienced a glitch that allowed Google services to work.

“It looks like merely a bug of the Great Firewall,” a member of the group who used a pseudonym was quoted as saying. “It’s blocked again.”

It is not clear at the time of writing how long the block on Google will remain in place, or indeed if it will be lifted again.

China of course is famous for its strict online censorship, with an estimated 2,600 websites being blocked in mainland China. Google services in China have now been blocked since May this year. But for years now, other big names in the tech industry including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc have been blocked in China.

It is interesting to note that the brief resumption of Google access occurred during the visit to Beijing of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry Visit

Cyber security was likely to high on the agenda during talks, not least because reports emerged this week that Chinese hackers had gained access to the computer system belonging to the US agency which holds all government personnel records.

But in reality, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Western companies to do business in China. Recently, Chinese businesses and banks have been replacing Western computers or software in favour of local offerings.

China also said that it would vet Western technology companies operating in the country. Meanwhile the China Central Government Procurement Centre has already excluded Windows 8 from a government purchase of energy-efficient computers, in order to “ensure computer security”.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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