International

Google Accuses China Of Interfering With Its E-Mail Service, Again

(FILES) This January 11, 2011 screen imageshows the Google logo in Washington, DC. Google unveiled an online payment platform for publishers on February 16, 2011, a day after Apple launched a subscription service of its own for newspapers, magazines, music and video. i
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This January 11, 2011 screen imageshows the Google logo in Washington, DC. Google unveiled an online payment platform for publishers on February 16, 2011, a day after Apple launched a subscription service of its own for newspapers, magazines, music and video.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

For the second time in as many years, Google is accusing China of interfering with its services. This time, reports The Wall Street Journal, Google is accusing the Chinese of interfering with Gmail in a way that made it look to users "like the problem is with Gmail."

The paper reports:

The site isn't entirely blocked, but users report problems ranging from inconsistent access to difficulties loading their inboxes, sending e-mails and using the chat function. Users have also had problems with Google Reader.

Time's Techland writes that the problems have been going on since early March.

In January 2010, Google complained that the Chinese government had targeted the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Because of what Google termed at the time as a "a highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on its corporate infrastructure, Google decided to stop censuring its search results in China.

Since then the relationship between Google and China has been strained. The newest claims from Google come as China, in attempt to tamp down any dissent inspired by the current events in the Middle East, is asserting a tighter grip on the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reports that other services, like virtual private networks, which encrypt data and route it around China, have been disrupted too.

The Guardian spoke to an internet executive who said these attacks show a new level of sophistication:

"In the wake of what is happening in the Middle East I don't think China wants to be seen making heavy-handed attacks on the internet, that would draw too much attention," said one internet executive who wished to remain anonymous. He said making it look like a fault in Google's system was extremely difficult to do and the fact that these blockages appear to come and go makes them look "semi-industrial and very, very sophisticated."

There were two other Google related headlines today:

— Google Voice will now be integrated with Sprint phones. (USA Today)

— France fines Google $141,000 for scrapping data off of unsecured wireless routers. (Forbes)

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