Google Gmail Service Blocked In China (NASDAQ:GOOGL)

People in China have been blocked from using Gmail, Google’s email service, by the Chinese government. The government has also blocked the ability to access Gmail through third party services like Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook, which some people had been using to work around the restrictions since the blocking began. Chinese Internet censorship controls, commonly known as the Great Firewall, were used to exert control over the service. According to data from Google, traffic to Gmail from Chinese servers has dropped to zero.

According to Internet analysts and users in China, the blockage has sparked anger across the country. The foreign companies in China that use Gmail as their corporate email service now have to ensure that employees have V.P.N., or virtual private network, software to access their email. However, authorities also try to inhibit that software because it allows users to bypass the controls.

Gmail seems to be the only major email service targeted by the recent actions of the Chinese government. Both Microsoft and Yahoo have released statements regarding the blockage saying that none of their users in China had made any reports of their email services being blocked. However, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is also blocked inside China and the Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked after pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong started sending photos to mainland Chinese users with the service.

The Chinese government requires online companies that want to operate in China to agree to a stringent set of controls, allowing the ruling party to regulate what is available online to its citizens. These controls include hosting data on Chinese soil, conducting business through partnerships with local companies, and removimg any data that the Chinese government asks them to. Many online companies that operate in China have had to sign agreements with the Chinese government to censor the content available to Chinese users to keep their access. Google has prominently refused those demands for years.

Local competition and government controls have stopped a number of US companies from expanding in China. The biggest success story has been Yahoo, but only because they had the foresight years ago to invest in Alibaba, sometimes referred to as the Amazon of China. China is currently the world’s second-largest economy.

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