On Dec. 26, the world’s most populous nation cut off the world’s most popular email service by blocking access to the all third party apps and programs like Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail in addition the blocking of Gmail’s actual website, according to censorship watchdog site GreatFire.org.
Chinese netizens can still access Gmail using virtual private networks and other workarounds but using the Google product has suddenly become a much more onerous task. That fact could drive even more Chinese users away from Gmail. It could also drive more Chinese to find ways around their vast digital censorship program.
Many Google services, including Gmail, have been blocked to varying degrees in China since June in the lead up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
A Chinese government spokesperson told Reuters they had no knowledge about the country blocking Gmail.
“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”
Google might disagree about the transparency. Based on comments to the press, it appears they’ve received no notification or explanation about the newly broadened blocks.
H/T Tech in Asia | Photo via Peter Kaminski (CC BY 2.0)