According to multiple reports, China recently started blocking numerous Google services, including Gmail, Google Maps and others that usually pass through the country’s so-called Great Firewall. Google’s Transparency Report shows a significant drop in traffic from China that started around 12:30am GMT last night. According to a statement from Google, the company has checked and “there’s nothing wrong on our end.”
It’s common for China to sporadically block some of Google’s services. According to watchdog site Greatfire.org, today’s disruption is affecting more users than ever, as the Firewall now also stops traffic to Gmail, a move that is relatively unusual.
This time around, most observers assume that the reason for the disruption is the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress, which began on November 8.
Looking at the Transparency Report, it looks like traffic is currently at normal levels compared to other days, but it still looks as if most Google services continue to be unreachable from China. For now, it’s unclear whether this is a temporary move, or if the Great Firewall will continue to block access to Google’s web services once the Party Congress is over.
Despite all of the animosity between Google and China, which broke out in full force after Google stopped self-censoring its search results, the company has a number of offices in the country and continues to expand its operations there. Despite its efforts, though, most of its services continue to lose market share due to the increasing local competition.
We will continue to watch this story and update it once we learn more.
Update, Sat., November 10: Greatfire is reporting the block has been lifted:
The DNS poisoning that was imposed on most Google websites yesterday appears to have been lifted. The blocking was likely reversed some time this morning. Due to the nature of DNS there is a delay before this trickles down to every ISP and every computer so if you still cannot access Google in China it’s likely just a question of time. You can also try to flush your DNS cache and it should work again.
Even though the blocking of Google Search may only have lasted for 12 hours or so, it was likely the single one decision by the Great Firewall authorities affecting the most users ever.