Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Access to Google Is Interrupted in China

Google’s search engine was inaccessible in much of China late Tuesday. The exact cause of the disruption was not fully clear, but it led to speculation that the site was being blocked by the country’s Internet censors.

Google itself added to the confusion, first saying that the problem was the result of a change it made to the string of characters it sends along with search requests, which may run afoul of China’s powerful Internet filter.

Later in the day, Google said that it had actually made that change a week ago, so the disruption must have been caused by changes on China’s end. It also said that by early Wednesday morning its service appeared to have been restored.

The disruption raised concern that China had decided to punish the company for its decision last week to move out of Beijing and operate an uncensored Web site from Hong Kong.

Users trying to access Google in Chinese and English were able to reach the home page of the Web site but unable to complete a search. The screen displayed an error message.

While some users in Shanghai said late Tuesday that they had occasional access to Google’s Chinese-language site, the site was largely unreachable.

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