Monday, March 21, 2011

Google Accuses China of Blocking Gmail Amid Unrest

Once again, Google has accused China of blocking its Gmail service as political tensions rise. Google said the Gmail blockage is "carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail." With the Jasmine Revolution under way, observers think China is disrupting Gmail communications among protesters. Google's Gmail is popular in China.

It's Google versus China -- again. Google is accusing the Chinese government of blocking Gmail in the communist nation. The search giant said China is making it difficult for users there to access Relevant Products/Services the web-based e-mail service.

Google is convinced it's not just a glitch like the one that took down thousands of Gmail accounts stateside earlier this month. After receiving complaints from Gmail users for several weeks, Google exhausted the internal possibilities.

"There is no issue on our side; we have checked extensively," Google said. "This is a government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."

Silencing a Revolution?

The Gmail blockage comes in the wake of calls for political protests in China. Dubbed the Jasmine Revolution, the February protests got the government's attention.

Now censorship watchers believe China is purposely blocking Gmail as a communications Relevant Products/Services vehicle for would-be protesters. China cannot compel Google to hand over information on its users, and Gmail has become one of the most popular webmail services in the nation.

Gmail appears to be one of the tools of choice for Chinese activists, and thus the Chinese government targets activity on Gmail to put down potential social unrest, said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.

"What's striking is not the Chinese government's or its surrogate's behavior -- the hacking -- but Google's lack of hesitation in calling this episode a 'politically motivated attack,'" Sterling said. "That stands in contrast to the cautious tone and unwillingness to name names that characterized Google's reaction when Gmail was initially targeted."

Google's Rush To Judgment

This isn't the first time Google and China have butted heads. In December 2009, Google revealed a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on its corporate infrastructure Relevant Products/Services that originated from China.

That attack, Google said, resulted in a theft of the search giant's intellectual property. In its internal investigations, Google discovered it wasn't the only target. Large U.S. companies from many industries were also hit.

The cyberattacks, which largely targeted the Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists, seem to have fueled Google's decision to stand up for freedom of speech in the communist nation. In January 2010, Google made a strong move against communist China by refusing to continue censoring search results on its Chinese site. In the wake of cyberattacks it linked to China, Google also said it would consider shutting down operations in that nation.

Google wound up renewing its agreement with China, but soon butted heads with the Chinese again. In July 2010, Google accused China of blocking its search engine, Google Mobile, and Google Ad products. Google also said its news and image services were being "partially blocked." However, Google apparently rushed to judgment. Later in the day, Google said the blockage levels were misreported by the company's internal tracking system Relevant Products/Services.

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