Great Firewall of China Now Blocking Gmail

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By Ben Myers

Great Wall of China Illustration
Great Wall of China Illustration

What happens when an unstoppable force collides head on with an immovable object? Why, you get the currently unfolding China versus Google saga. Google’s Gmail service is currently unavailable in China thanks to that communist nation’s censors. While Google has no official presence in China, Chinese customers have been using third party providers to access Google services on their own. China’s been playing a cat and mouse game with consumers who try to bypass the state’s filtering network.
According to reports, Google’s Chinese Gmail traffic has experienced a massive drop in traffic to the recent outage in access. Due to the fact that Google isn’t officially allowed in China, Chinese customers have to jump through many technical hoops to access Google. The use of proxies is one way consumers can bypass China’s elaborate filtering system. The recent outage involves accessing Gmail through common protocols like IMAP and SMTP. Apparently, recent changes in the Chinese government’s censorship network may be interfering with email access using these protocols.

Google’s recent experience should not be a surprise. China is serious about censorship as it tries to keep on top of any possible dissenting communications. Moreover, it isn’t shy about stepping in and jailing people based on their online communications. As far as Google’s stock is concerned, the market has priced in Google’s limited presence in China. If one is concerned about stocks regarding the Chinese government’s Internet policies, one should look into investing in Chinese search engine Baidu. The reality is that, for all intents and purposes, the Chinese market, through government policies, has been effectively monopolized by local players. These local players are more compliant with state censorship rules. There is no reason to expect that this situation would change anytime soon.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos