China Blocks Google Websites, Redirects DNS
Rebecca Darrah for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Google’s services are currently blocked in China, according to web-monitoring group GreatFire.org.
“It’s the first time since we started tracking online censorship in China in February last year that this has happened,” GreatFire wrote in a blog post on Friday.
“The subdomains www.google.com, mail.google.com, google-analytics.com, docs.google.com, drive.google.com, maps.google.com, play.google.com and perhaps many more are all currently DNS poisoned in China.”
The watchdog group, which performs real-time monitoring of the Internet, said Google.com experienced a sharp drop in traffic late Thursday due to the Chinese government moving “one step closer to fully separating the Chinanet from the Internet.”
Indeed, Google’s Transparency Report, which monitors the accessibility of its services worldwide, reveals traffic to Google’s websites fell to about half their normal amount.
The company said there was nothing they did that would account for the incident.
“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Google spokeswoman said.
GreatFire said users in China trying to access Google’s services were being redirected to an IP address in Korea that doesn’t serve any website at all.
“This means that none of these websites, including Google Search, currently work in China, unless you have a VPN or other circumvention tool,” the group said.
For now, it appears international versions of Google have not been disrupted in China.
Google is the second most popular search engine in China, behind Baidu, and is one of the five most popular websites in the country on a daily basis, according to Alexa stats.
But the blockade could backfire on the Chinese government as more users realize Google is blocked, GreatFire said.
“Never before have so many people been affected by a decision to block a website.”
“If Google stays blocked, many more people in China will become aware of the extent of censorship. How will they react? Will there be protests?” the watchdog group said.
China is currently holding its 18th Party Congress, which will select the new leaders of the ruling Communist Party. This might explain the timing of the blockade, GreatFire said.
“The fact that Google is blocked now is surely no coincidence. The big question is whether it will be unblocked again once the congress is over. We will closely monitor developments.”
Other tools are “working poorly or not at all,” the group added.
For now, Web users in China can try accessing Google’s sites directly using Google’s IP addresses, which are not yet blocked. GreatFire provided some of the IP addresses, including:
Google has had a somewhat turbulent history with Chinese officials in recent years. In January 2010, Google accused Chinese officials of attempting to hack into the Gmail accounts of human rights activists.
As a result, Google said it would no longer censor search results in China, even if it meant pulling out of the country entirely. Google then began re-routing all Google.cn traffic to the uncensored Google.com.hk.
The move led one Chinese minister to warn of “consequences” if Google continued the practice.
The two parties ultimately reached a compromise that allowed Google to maintain its presence in China.