China, which has some of the world’s strictest internet controls, is now reportedly restricting access to Google’s popular email site Gmail.
Google announced that account users have reported difficulty accessing the site over the last few weeks. Google reported the Chinese government is responsible for the problems. Gmail users said they can still log into their accounts, however, they are unable to send emails or access their address books.
“There is no technical issue on our side. We have checked extensively,” said a Google spokesperson. “This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail.”
The government, which has blocked numerous politically sensitive sites, most recently blocked any words relating to the ‘Jasmine Revolution’, and other anti-government protests in the North Africa and the Middle East.
“Jasmine Revolution” was the code name given to the uprising in Tunisia which led to the ousting of its old regime.
Online calls urging the Chinese people to protest has caused the government to respond aggressively not only with online censorship, but with arrests of activists and the harassment of foreign journalists. Extra armed forces have been deployed to tackle any apparent unrest.
On 11 March, Google revealed security-related information on its blog post, saying it had “noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target.”
China not only blocks political-related sites, but also blocks assess to the world’s most popular networking sites, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.