Tuesday 30 December 2014

Why China Is Trying to Kill Gmail

So the real question isnt why Chinas government would seek to block Gmailgiven its long history of web censorshipbut rather: why now?
In the absence of official confirmation, some Chinese Gmail users have their own theories. Brian Glucroft, a user experience researcher and travel blogger in China, told Motherboard he suspected that Chinese authorities needed time to close the loopholes for accessing Gmail enabled by third-party apps and protocols. The question is whether this is something genuinely new or just China cleaning things up, Glucroft wrote in an email sent from Shanghai through Gmail and a VPN. I lean towards the latter.
Cook, the research analyst, agreed, saying that China has been tightening internet censorship since Xi Jinping took over the presidency in 2013. But she offered another more troubling theory as well. The Chinese government has a tendency to sentence activists around the time of the holidays, Cook noted. One thing to keep an eye on is whether this is to pre-empt some action that the governments going to take that they want people not to talk about.
Whatever the reason for the timing, the Chinese governments apparent censorship of Gmail is a clear indicator it views the service as yet another tool that can be used against it by activists and foreign actors. Its also a painfully ironic reminder of how the country with the largest online population in the world has deviated from the first email its government ever sent back in 1987, which read: across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world."


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