The concept of “free internet” never really takes hold until the very first moment you sit down at a Chinese computer and type in “Facebook.com.” Here in China, it’s blocked. And even though tech giant Google pulled out of mainland China over a year ago, it’s only been harder to access Google’s services recently.
One of the most noticeable effects of China’s Great Firewall as of late has been Gmail’s increased inaccessibility. The slowdown has been reportedly going on for weeks, since early March. A source in Beijing reports that Gmail has been “…slower definitely. By far. Sometimes we’ve been unable to connect, and many times unable to use Gchat.”
Even Google’s Person Finder for the Japan earthquake has been disturbed by the increased online scrutiny. China hasn’t let up its guard one bit.
Though news of the Egyptian revolution was censored on Chinese-language sites, small hints of a similarly-inspired Chinese “jasmine resolution” sprung up in February, leading authorities to further crack down.
According to the Guardian, Google says that the slowdown is designed to look like it is an inherent flaw with Gmail:
…Technology experts said it seemed to show an increasingly high degree of sophistication. “In the wake of what is happening in the Middle East I don’t think China wants to be seen making heavy-handed attacks on the internet, that would draw too much attention,” said one internet executive who wished to remain anonymous. He said making it look like a fault in Google’s system was extremely difficult to do and the fact that these attacks appear to come and go makes the attack look “semi-industrial and very, very sophisticated.”
The Great Firewall already blocks other services such as YouTube, LinkedIn and Blogspot. Google began doing business in China in 2005, but after censorship conflicts with the Chinese government, Google moved its operation to Hong Kong.
(This post republished from Techland.)