Google is facing disrupted service in China, according to a number of sources. Affected services include Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Drive, and basic Google search.
Google Transparency Report, which displays Google’s worldwide traffic in nifty graph form, indicated a plunge in Web traffic from China. “We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” Google spokespeople told Bloomberg and other publications.
The Chinese government is hosting the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress this week. “The fact that Google is blocked now is surely no coincidence,” GreatFire.org, which watchdogs Internet activity within China, wrote in a Nov. 9 blog posting. “The big question is whether it will be unblocked again once the congress is over. We will closely monitor developments.” It also offered a list of IP services for connecting directly with Google services.
Google hasn’t had the smoothest relations with the Chinese government. Back in 2010, the search-engine giant threatened to shut down its operations in China unless it could work out an agreement with the government for an unfiltered search engine. That announcement came in the wake of a sophisticated attack on Google’s IT infrastructure that reportedly originated within China.
The dispute over censorship has continued to simmer over the next two years. In May, Google announced that it would notify users in China if they entered certain keywords, following news of queries resulting in error messages. “We’ve taken a long, hard look at our systems and have not found any problems,” read a post on the Official Google Search Blog. “However, after digging into user reports, we’ve noticed that these interruptions are closely correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries.” The posting is also notable in that it never directly mentions the word “censorship.”
Google isn’t the only U.S. tech company facing issues with the Chinese market. Facebook has also been trying to figure out how to best deal with the Great Firewall. “The way that we look at it now is there’s so may other places in the world where we can connect more people more easily,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Charlie Rose in a 2011 interview, “without having to face those hard questions.”