Gmail users living in China have been locked out of their Google accounts since Friday. The culprit is believed to be the Chinese government, who have reportedly blocked access to Google’s web services throughout the country.
Data obtained from Google, indicates that real-time traffic in China to its email service plummeted dramatically on December 26. As of writing, the traffic shows no signs of returning to normal. The number of people affected has yet to be determined, but reports continue to pour in from disgruntled Google users all over the country.
That’s Not All….
The crackdown on outside web services seems to have been extended to cover Google’s search engine, as well. Users have been unable to log onto the search engine since Monday, according to numerous reports. Despite the blame being heaped upon their shoulders, the Foreign Ministry strenuously denies any involvement in the block.
Vice president of data analytics for the firm Dyn, Earl Zmijewski, remains unconvinced, however, claiming this was a “deliberate” move.
The Gmail block first came to the world’s attention when it was reported by GreatFire.org, the well known advocacy group based in China who fight for freedom of speech. Their findings were later confirmed by Dyn, as well as a Transparency Report supplied by Google themselves. These reports are used by Google to pinpoint any disruptions to its services.
Everything was fine up until Christmas day, traffic was shown peaking and dropping at ordinary levels. It was Boxing Day when things began to turn sour, traffic levels began to drop and, instead of recovering, continued to plummet throughout the day.
An anonymous GreatFire.org representative claims the block is all part of the government’s attempts to weaken Google’s presence in the region, crippling its market share, before eliminating it completely.
This isn’t the first time Google has butted heads with the Chinese government: earlier this year, a number of Google products and services were taken offline as part of a crackdown on the activities of pro-democracy activists.
At present, the only way for users and companies to circumvent the block, is to get their hands on a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which allow access to sites that are currently closed-off.