Google’s (GOOGL) email service, Gmail, is no longer available in China as of today, ABC News reported. Chinese access to Gmail has been blocked as government is trying to limit or even ban access to the company’s services. Google’s services are popular among Chinese users looking to avoid government monitoring.
The outage is most likely the result of the Chinese government attempt to block Google’s fast growing presence.
Reports of Gmail not working in China began on Friday, according to Yahoo, and data from Google’s real-time traffic report shows a steep drop from that point forward.
Google spokesman Taj Meadows has said “there’s nothing wrong on our end.” There has been no comment from China’s State Internet Information Office.
“Gmail has never been openly permitted in China but there’s been this workaround. People in China have been able to use these third-party providers to access Gmail while in the country, ” Yahoo Finance senior columnist Michael Santoli explained.
Google closed its mainland China search engine in 2009, refusing to cooperate with Chinese censors. That followed hacking attacks traced to China aimed at stealing the company’s operating code and breaking into email accounts, ABC News reported.
Since then, access to Google services has been limited or blocked, in an effort to pressure Chinese users to drop the Google products, and to switch to domestic providers who cooperate with the government.
Chinese Gmail users are accessing the site through protocols like Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which were blocked on Friday.
“All of a sudden Gmail traffic goes to zero so presumably everyone who looks at these things says that China obviously put up a new wall that’s actually working, ” Santoli said.
The Chinese government has blocked in the past popular services like YouTube, Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and The New York Times.
According to Santoli, the ban on Gmail will hurt companies inside China. “A lot of companies that do business in China that are multinationals do use the Gmail platform and so it’s obviously another headache and hurdle to doing business in China, ” the columnist says.