Chinese access to Google’s email service has now been blocked completely as the government attempts to limit or ban access to Google’s services, which are popular among Chinese residents attempting to avoid government monitoring.
Google’s Transparency Report found traffic to Gmail from China dropped quickly on Friday and reached almost zero on Saturday, which a slight pickup on Monday. Google has said there is nothing technically wrong on their end, according to the Huffington Post.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Jeff Rathke” author_title=”US State Department”]
We continue to be concerned by efforts in China to undermine freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and we believe Chinese authorities’ censorship of the media and of certain Web sites is incompatible with China’s aspirations to build a modern information-based economy and society.
In an editorial, the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper said it was possible the government cut online access to Gmail, saying the decision “must have been prompted by newly emerged security reasons.”
In 2009, Google closed down its mainland China search engine and said it would not cooperate with the country’s sensors after hacking attacks traced back to China were aimed at stealing the company’s operating code.
Since then, access to Google services has been periodically blocked or limited. Web access to Gmail has been blocked in China since June, although users have been able to access the service through third-party email software like Apple Mail and mobile apps prior to the current block. On Friday, Gmail users found that even third-party clients no longer allowed them to access email, according to Forbes.
The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has spent over a decade putting restrictions on internet usage in an effort known as the Great Firewall of China, or officially the Golden Shield Project. The program was designed after China’s effort to open international relations.
The shutdown comes after student-led pro-democracy protests against the government in Hong Kong, which led to the use of an app known as FireChat that allows users to send messages between phones without a Wi-Fi or cell connection.
The Gmail shutdown has sparked anger as it is not merely a matter of preference or convenience. Many foreign companies in China use Gmail as their corporate email service, according to the New York Times.
Other companies have also been censored in China, including Facebook and Instagram, after pro-democracy protestors began using the service to share photos with mainland Chinese users.