A Google Inc. website indicated the company’s search engine was largely unavailable to users in mainland China, the first time that has happened since Google stopped self-censoring its search results in March. It was unclear whether access had been blocked by the Chinese government or if it was a temporary service disruption. A Google spokesman said he did not have any immediate information on the change in service availability.
“Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it’s possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement. “That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage, It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally.”
Google’s online ads and its mobile search were also blocked for the first time, according to the company’s “mainland China service availability” Web page. For the past few weeks, Google’s search feature that “suggests” queries to users as they begin typing letters in the search box has been fully blocked. That feature is popular in China because typing out Chinese characters takes longer than other languages.
But For the past few weeks, Google’s search feature that “suggests” queries to users as they begin typing letters in the search box has been fully blocked. A dispute between China and Google over Internet censorship blew up in January when the world’s largest search engine stunned markets and consumers by warning that it might quit China. At the time, Google said it would not provide the censored search results that China requires.
Google had its Internet license renewed earlier this month after it stopped automatically sending Chinese users to its separate Hong Kong site. A conflict with China erupted in January after the company said it would no longer self-censor search results in the world’s largest Internet market. While Google doesn’t censor its Hong Kong site, the government takes measures to limit access to certain content on the Internet. And other Google services, such as video site YouTube, have long been blocked by China.