March 25, 2009

Routing Around Censorship? [8:07 am]

YouTube Being Blocked in China, Google Says (pdf)

Google said it did not know why the site had been blocked, but a report by the official Xinhua news agency of China on Tuesday said that supporters of the Dalai Lama had fabricated a video that appeared to show Chinese police officers brutally beating Tibetans after riots last year in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

Xinhua did not identify the video, but based on the description it appears to match a video available on YouTube that was recently released by the Tibetan government in exile.

[...] “We don’t know the reason for the block,” a Google spokesman, Scott Rubin, said. “Our government relations people are trying to resolve it.”

Mr. Rubin said that the company first noticed traffic from China had decreased sharply late Monday. By early Tuesday, he said, it had dropped to nearly zero.

China routinely filters Internet content and blocks material that is critical of its policies. It also frequently blocks individual videos on YouTube. YouTube was not blocked Tuesday or Wednesday in Hong Kong, the largely autonomous region of China. Beijing has not interfered with Internet sites there.

“The instant speculation is that YouTube is being blocked because the Tibetan government in exile released a particular video,” said Xiao Qiang, adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and editor of China Digital Times, a news Web site that chronicles political and economic changes in China.

Mr. Xiao said that the blocking of YouTube fit with what appeared to be an effort by China to step up its censorship of the Internet in recent months. [...]

See also China: Censors Bar Mythical Creature (pdf) as a followup to this earlier post.

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