Google's Gmail appears to have been blocked by China at IP level

Dyn Research said Gmail was being blocked at the IP level when served from Hong Kong

China is apparently blocking Google's Gmail service in the latest move by the country to curb foreign Internet services.

Internet performance monitoring company, Dyn Research, said Sunday that China was blocking Gmail at the IP level when served from Hong Kong.

All Gmail traffic to China is through Hong Kong and affected by the block, unless users deploy evasion techniques, wrote Earl Zmijewski, Dyn's vice president of analytics, in an email.

Google's real-time measure of traffic patterns for its services also indicated a sharp drop in Gmail traffic in China after Christmas. The company could not be immediately reached for comment because of the Christmas holidays.

DNS, or the Domain Name System, is a naming system for resources on the Internet that translates a domain name into numerical IP (Internet Protocol) addresses that computers can understand to access the Internet. IP address blocking is often used by regimes to censor content to a particular region.

"DNS returns only Hong Kong IPs from all of our locations throughout China," Zmijewski wrote. "These IP addresses are then blocked on backbone routers, so the Hong Kong servers cannot be reached from the mainland." Google returns Hong Kong IPs to their Chinese users as these are the closest servers, he added.

Zmijewski pointed out that Google operates Gmail servers in 20 different countries and he can access them from China when doing a spot check. "Thus, using a non-Hong Kong server (if you happen to be able to discover the appropriate IP address) or a VPN based in another country, should enable Chinese users to get around this block," he added.

China has a long history of censoring and disrupting sites that could be used for distributing anti-government content and has also blocked some international services like Facebook and Twitter. Google pulled out partially from China in 2010 rather than self-censor its search engine, after it said it had found a cyberattack that targeted the accounts of human rights activists. The company started redirecting users visiting its Chinese search site to its Hong Kong website.

A number of Google services were disrupted this year, ahead of the 25th anniversary on June 4 of China's crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, according to GreatFire.org, a website that tracks Internet access in the country.

Google's transparency report shows consistent access to Gmail from Chinese users over the years until the current block, Zmijewski said.

On Twitter and other forums, users complained about the lack of access to Gmail. Liu Yuan, a user in Shanghai, wrote: "mail from or to gmail from china may be returned. btw, which is the best vpn?"

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGoogleMailgovernmentinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?