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Ahead of New Year, China blocks Gmail across country

The popular Gmail service has been comprehensively blocked in China about seven months after government censors allegedly began to tighten its control over the email service.

tech Updated: Dec 30, 2014 01:23 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The popular Gmail service has been comprehensively blocked in China about seven months after government censors allegedly began to tighten its control over the email service.

According to internet giant Google's Transparency report, which keeps tracks of disruptions to its services worldwide, Gmail traffic in China rapidly fell from last week.

Access to Gmail was intermittent till May this year, when access to it was allegedly blocked by the massive Great Firewall of China, a web of censors working on at least three levels; the more intense disruptions coincided with 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre on June 4.

But the email service could still be used through what is known as Internet protocols like IMAP, POP, and STMP via applications.

But as many users found out last week: it cannot be accessed anymore; except of course through a VPN or Virtual Private Network.

Google's own Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic to Google services, displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China on Friday.

"We've checked and there's nothing wrong on our end," a Singapore-based spokesman for Google was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The Chinese government has been silent over the development.

Reports added that blocking Gmail could hinder communication between companies within and outside China as this particular email service is used across countries. Though China has its own email services, many urban Chinese citizens use Gmail.

An earlier study by Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science had claimed that the censorship in China works in at least three ways.

The first is the Great Firewall of China, which disallows certain web sites from operating. The second is "keyword blocking" and the third is manual censoring.