Monday, June 2, 2014

Google disrupted prior to Tiananmen Anniversary

The 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident is coming. This highlights another fierce battle in the war between China censorship authority and information flow.

Google started to encrypt search by default in China in March and currently nearly all users will be redirected to the encrypted version automatically. But prior to the anniversary of Tiananmen incident, GFW(Great Firewall of China) began to severely disrupt Google search by disrupting TCP connections to Google IPs.  The block is indiscriminate as all Google services in all countries, encrypted or not, are now blocked in China. This blockage includes Google search, images, translate, Gmail and almost all other products. In addition, the block covers Google Hong Kong(China’s version of Google), and all other country specific versions, e.g Google France.

It is not clear that the block is a temporary measure around the anniversary or a permanent block. But because the block has lasted for 4 days, it’s more likely that Google will be severely disrupted and barely usable from now on.  I reported the block of Google in 2012 which lasted for 12 hours. Back then, I speculated that the Chinese censorship authority was testing public opinion, or the "block Google" button. Presumably, they have gathered enough information since 2012 to implement a full scale block this time.  It is the strictest censorship ever deployed.

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