Reports are coming in that the social coding site GitHub has been blocked in China. While the service has seen blocks in the country before, this appears to be a much broader denial of service, affecting most, if not all users in the world’s most populous country online and offline.
GitHub completely blocked in China now, including HTTPS en.greatfire.org/https/github.c…. Bad news for Chinese software developers
— GreatFire.org (@GreatFireChina) January 21, 2013
According to the site’s monitoring page for GitHub, there have been contradictory results for months, but most in the last 24 hours there have been findings of a “Complete blocking detected.” Just last week, there were reports of “No censorship detected.”
Hacker News user gbraad from Beijing gives a bit more context:
Did a traceroute and this reveals an expected result. It is really the DNS which returns a wrong value ’188.8.131.52′ instead of the expected ’184.108.40.206′, so it looks like a dns poisoning attempt or some other dns issue. Editing your /etc/hosts file or using opendns can help in this case.
So with OpenDNS it loads… still some packetloss, but this is expected. In the worst case, use a VPN. Although, this means it will trouble Chinese participation and contributions to projects even more.
There are already many theories as to why it has been blocked: for example, ccp0202 believes it’s related to an automated train ticket polling plugin while csmattryder thinks it’s because of the release of mongol, a tool that detects routers acting in the Great Firewall. Chances are we’ll never know the exact reason.
This is quite unfortunate as GitHub censorship means Chinese developers will have to play around with workarounds or find an alternative service when they want to work with their peers around the world. There might be a chance that this is a temporary block, however, as with the Chinese government you just never know.
We have contacted GitHub about this issue. We will update this article if we hear back.
Image credit: Vorarlberg
Google has quietly disabled a feature that notified users of its search service in China when a keyword had been censored by the Chinese government’s internet controls, according to censorship monitoring blog GreatFire.org. The blog reports that the change was made sometime between December 5 and December 8, 2012, with no official statement from Google to announce or explain its removal.
According to GreatFire.org Google has also deleted a help article which explained how to use the feature — which it says indicates that Google is self-censoring in this instance, rather than being blocked by the government (which has happened in the past). “Since the removal of the help article could only be done willingly by Google, the only explanation we see is that Google struck a deal with the Chinese government, giving in to considerable pressure to self-censor,” it writes.
The blog argues that the move “indicates a new development in the relationship between the Chinese government and Google” — since Google previously and successfully fought government attempts to censor its censorship notification feature, not to mention implementing the feature in the first place. Speculating on what might have caused Mountain View’s change of heart, GreatFire.org writes:
How did the Chinese government force such a candid company to do its bidding? Perhaps the complete blocking of Google Search on Nov 9 was part of it. The block was lifted after less than 24 hours making the move look very peculiar. At the time we speculated that perhaps it was a test of a “block-all-of-Google” button, but this new theory of it being part of pressuring Google looks at least as likely. It may have been an instance of the government showing off its power to Google and using it as a leverage in their negotiations.
Also in November, the throttling and partial blocking of Google’s Mail service was stepped up considerably. In the end, Google may have decided that providing a restricted version of Google Search and a slow but usable Gmail to Chinese users is much better than being completely cut off.
We’ve reached out to Google for confirmation that it has removed its censorship notification feature for users in China, and — if it has self-censored in this instance — to ask for its reasons for doing so. We’ll update this article with any response.
Google’s keyword censorship notification feature displayed the following message when a search result was blocked by the Chinese government:
GreatFire.org also has a screengrab of the Google help article explaining the anti-censorship feature — also now removed:
See the original post: Google Quietly Removes Censorship Warning Feature For Search Users In China
Well that was quicker than expected. Just a few hours ago, we wrote about a hack to let you block users on Pinterest, and now the social network has made the feature official. The company today announced the ability to block and report a user; if you don’t see the flag icon immediately, that’s because the features are rolling out gradually this week on the Web version of the social network, and will arrive on mobile in the next update.
Pinterest says it is adding the ability to block and report a user “to help keep our community positive and respectful.” As we already reported, however, the Block User suggestion was the third most popular feature request on the site, so I would wager that also helped tipped the scales. The suggestion has now been removed.
With that out of the way, let’s first cover user blocking. To use the new feature, go to an individual’s profile and hover over the small flag icon on the right-hand side of their profile information. Then just click on the red “Block” button in the drop-down menu. Here’s a screenshot:
Blocking means both you and the user you have blocked cannot follow each other’s boards, nor can you like, repin, or comment on each other’s pins. When you block someone, the other person is not automatically notified, but he or she will know they’ve been blocked if they try to follow you or interact with your pins (much like on Twitter).
Next up is user reporting. As you can see in the screenshot above, the same menu on a person’s profile also now features the new report user feature. In addition to the ability to report a pin, you can now report an entire user to Pinterest. When you do so, Pinterest sends an alert to its Community team to review the account.
Last but certainly not least, Pinterest has released more granular email settings. These should be available to you immediately. Here’s how the Web page looks now:
For more information on these updates, check out Pinterest’s corresponding support articles: How do I block someone? and How do I change my email address or notification preferences?
Image credit: loleia
Read the original post: Pinterest launches user blocking and reporting, adds more granular email settings
It seems that the Iranian government is working to take even tighter control of the country’s already heavily-censored version of the Internet.
The government said that it’s going to launch its own domestic Internet, and that the system will be fully operational by March 2013, according to Reuters and others (who, in turn, seem to be basing their reports on the Iranian media). It’s not clear whether all access to sites outside of Iran will be blocked once the domestic system is live.
Cybersecurity is the official reason for the growing online restrictions (sites like YouTube and Facebook are already blocked), but it’s probably not coincidental that the Internet was also seen as a key tool in 2009′s protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (The importance of tools like Facebook and Twitter in those protests has been the subject of some debate.) Iranians “commonly” get around the existing government filters by using VPN software, Reuters says.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that an Iranian domestic Internet system was in the works, giving the government more power to restrict online access during protests or other periods of civil unrest. However, planning such a system and actually making it work are two different things — a retired security director from the National Security Agency told the Post that “any attempt by a country to make an intranet is doomed to failure.”
The Iranian government also announced, via state television, that it will be blocking accessing to Google and Gmail within “a few hours.” The Iranian Students’ News Agency says this is in response to the anti-Islamic “Innocence of Muslims Video” that was posted (and then blocked) on YouTube. I’ve emailed Google for more information and will update if I hear back.
Originally posted here: Iran Announces Plan To Launch Domestic Internet By March 2013 (And To Block Google Today)
According to the Reuters India Twitter account, the Pakistani prime minister has ordered the suspension of YouTube after more violence has broken out around the country in reaction to an anti-Islam film.
Protests in many Islamic countries have broken out after a trailers for to the independently made film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’ emerged a few weeks ago. The first protests erupted in Cairo, Egypt and unrest has spread across North Africa and the Middle East.
A platoon of marines has been deployed to Sanaa, Yemen to defend the US embassy there after it was stormed by protesters.
The suspension of YouTube in Pakistan is likely to be an attempt to slow down the spread of violence. According to the BBC, at least one protester has been killed in protests, thousands have attended a rally in the Philippines and weapons were fired and police cars set alight in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The trailer alone has sparked huge amounts of violent outrage. The BBC also reports that ‘the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has said the US faces “very dangerous” repercussions if it allows the full video to be released.’
The report says that in a rare public appearance, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told a rally in Beirut that the world did not understand the “breadth of the humiliation” caused by the “worst attack ever on Islam”.
The film trailer is horribly made and generally blunt and insulting, but it also creates a big problem for Google as the owner of YouTube, when it comes to freedom of speech and of course avoiding further violent protests.
AP reported last week that YouTube was blocking the video. In a statement YouTube said, “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya.”
As the EFF points out, this is an unusual move from the video giant. This highlights a difficulty in regional blocking and the choices the company makes when it comes to blocking in some countries and not others. If it is blocked in Libya and Egypt, where else should it be blocked or should it in fact be removed?
Total censorship is never a particularly appealing alternative, but in the case of regional and time-based blocking, YouTube needs to be careful as our digital rights are only just being formulated in many countries around the world. Past precedence is a powerful argument and it is hard to predict where this may be used in future.
Seeing violence of this type break out in various regions is a stark reminder that Internet companies are not just reponsible for a digital realm.
Image Credit: Jonsson