China is among the world’s more restrictive countries when it comes to internet access. The “Great Firewall of China” is famous for the restrictions it places on the online activities of its citizens.
In fact, new data suggests that Google’s popular Gmail service is currently blocked in the country.
Web traffic research firm Dyn Research revealed that Gmail traffic is being blocked at the IP level, effectively making Gmail inaccessible in most parts of China. It noted that the disruption seems to have started on Christmas day.
Google’s Transparency Report showed a sharp decline in Gmail traffic on Christmas day. Although there was a bit of fluctuation, a prolonged period of flat-lining was observed.
Earl Zmijewski, vice president of data analytics at Dyn Research, said: “China has a number of ways they can block content. One of the crudest ways is to just block an IP address, and when you do that, you block all the content available at the IP.”
On Twitter, the research firm confirmed China’s IP-level block on Gmail when the site is served from Hong Kong. Zmijewski explained that this is significant because most of China’s Gmail access is routed through IP addresses in Hong Kong.
Google and China share a complicated relationship. In June, China blocked access to Google ahead of the 25th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
Prior to that, the country blocked access to Google services in 2012 and 2009. Meanwhile, Google stated publicly in 2010 that it would stop censoring its search engine within China.