Google Mobile Services Partially Blocked in China

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-03-29 Print this article Print

Google's mobile applications in mainland China have been at least partially blocked, according to the search engine's special Web page for service availability.

Google launched the site one week ago today after it shuttered its search portal and shuttled users to instead, an effort to get around censorship in that country.

At the time, Google's YouTube, Google Sites and Blogger were already completely blocked in China. But the mobile service snafu, which covers mobile versions of search, Gmail, Google Maps and so on, appears new as of March 28:

China service.png

This update may prompt more speculation that perhaps the Chinese government is mucking up the works, but there is no evidence of this.

Google told eWEEK service availability fluctuates regularly and it is too early to tell if this blockage will be persistent. "There is no specific indication that the change is related to our recent announcement," Google said.

Google faced similar speculation March 25 when YouTube went down for a couple hours.

Again, there is no reason to believe this was caused by anything other than a technical issue. Still, people love to draw their own conclusions.

Still, given Google's ambitions for the mobile Web, this is not the best news for the company.

How has Google's move to fared in the first full week of the move? The New York Times easily offers the best coverage of this issue.

The best one for our purposes is this piece on how Chinese searches for politically charged terms, such as "Tiananmen," "Falun Gong" and "corruption," increased by more than 10 times the day Google stopped filtering its search results.

But searches for censored terms on Google's uncensored Hong Kong search engine fell off quickly in the next few days in part because most Chinese did not rush to search for politically delicate material and also because the pages newly revealed by Google were still mostly blocked in China.

In other words, while people in the United States are raving about Google's heroic stand against censorship, this was a mere blip on the radar of most Chinese Internet users.

The Great Firewall of China prevails. |

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