China's 'Great Firewall' reportedly blocks Gmail
By RYAN GORMAN
The world's most popular email service has reportedly been blocked in China.
Internet sensors have apparently blocked access to Google's Gmail, according to free speech advocates GreatFire.org, a group named after the country's so-called "Great Firewall," which is employed by the government to block content deemed offensive by the Communist regime.
The full blockage caps months of service disruptions for Gmail users in mainland China, and could be a result of the company's refusal to play ball with its leaders.
"I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google's presence in China and even weaken its market overseas," a GreatFire.org member told Reuters.
"Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail."
Google's Transparency Report, which shows realtime traffic to company websites, has showed a sharp drop-off in Gmail usage since Friday, when the country-wide issues were first reported.
GreatFire.org's domain checker still shows Gmail blocked as of 10:00 a.m. EST on Monday.
The company first entered China in 2006 with a censored search engine, to comply with government restrictions, but has redirected users to Google.hk since 2010.
Google.hk is based in Hong Kong, which places far less restrictions on freedom of speech than mainland China.
Censors have blocked virtually all Google services since June, according to Reuters, but people using POP3, IMAP and SMTP clients like Outlook and mobile mail apps were still able to download Gmail messages until last week.
A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry denied blocking Gmail to Reuters while insisting the country is open to foreign companies "doing legitimate business."
There is still one way around the "Great Firewall."
Corporate Gmail customers can still use the service if they access the Internet using a virtual private network (VPN).
VPNs are able to completely circumvent the censors.
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