Wednesday, March 25, 2009

YouTube Blocked in China

From CNN:
China has blocked the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube but did not offer a reason for the ban.

Google, which owns YouTube, said it began noticing a decline in traffic from China about noon Monday.

By early Wednesday, site users insider China continued to encounter an error message: "Network Timeout. The server at youtube.com is taking too long to respond."

"We do not know the reason for the blockage and we are working as quickly as possible to restore access to our users," said Scott Rubin, a spokesman for Google, which owns YouTube.

It's not the first time users in China have been unable to access the site. In March 2008, China blocked YouTube during riots in Tibet. . . .

Many in the country speculated the latest ban may be an attempt to filter access to footage that a Tibetan exile group released. The videos show Tibetans being kicked and beaten, allegedly by Chinese police officers after the riots. . . .

China, with 298 million Internet users, has routinely blocked access to Web sites it considers politically unacceptable, including the Voice of America and The New York Times. The Chinese government has also censored television broadcasts, including those by the BBC and CNN, during coverage of issues such as its policy in Tibet and Taiwan.

The Chinese government did not directly address whether it has blocked YouTube.

"China is not afraid of the Internet," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Tuesday. "We manage the Internet according to law ... to prevent the spread of harmful information."

YouTube, which allows users to upload and share videos, has been banned periodically in other countries as well. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey temporarily shut off access to the site after users uploaded content the countries' governments considered politically embarrassing.

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