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Technorati blocked by China(?) April 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT.

Technorati's Adam Hertz is blogging that it is getting reports that Technorati is not accessible from China, here.

With the growth of the blogosphere, it is understandable that China's censors see blog search as a threat.

Update 4/28 00:20 JST (GMT+9) Hugh Mcleod at Gaping Void says he got an email from Rick Segal (who is in China, HK to be precise) saying he can access Technorati. But other comments from people in China on various blogs appear to indicate that Technorati is inaccessible. Maybe it is a SAR (HK) vs "mainland" China thing. The SAR seems to operate a little bit autonomously sometimes. An insightful comment from a comment by dawanr at Tom Raftery's blog suggests the timing of the incident may not be unrelated to the fact that China's President Hu Jintao spent a few days in China recently which would likely prompt various comments relating to China in the blogosphere. I'm inclined to agree.

Update China based users are reporting that Technorati is back up. Was this a technical glitch? A trigger happy low level bureaucrat? Or was it an orchestrated affair designed to test the waters? Or a subtle game of psychological warfare to keep anti-censorship people on their toes (or even out these people to target more finely tuned filters)? Or was it that the authorities did a review of the search results and didn't find much that offended their sensibilities, allied to the fact that the blog search algorithms push fresh posts to the top so older postings are not likely to get much traffic once they fall off the top page?    


1. China Law Blog - April 28, 2006

Sites go on and off in China like lights. Technorati is down now but it could be back up in a few minutes or a few days. Until more time has passed, it is impossible to say from how high up in the government chain the shutdown came. Was it an overzealous bureaucrat on the bottom or a strong signal to Technorati to “clean up” its China act? At this point, I’m betting on the former.

2. dawanr - April 28, 2006

Quite right: the “great firewall of China” does not operate in Hong Kong. So if Technorati is being blocked in Mainland China, people in HK would not notice.

3. fukumimi - April 28, 2006

I would think allowing/encouraging “overzealous bureaucrats” to work “proactively” is an effective tactic, allowing plausible deniability if overseas public and governments react negatively in a strong fashion.

Giving the impression of such unpredictability allows an organization to test the waters of public opinion rather conveniently, especially when such apparent lack of organizational discipline is not subject to domestic criticism due to the lack of a free press and a similar lack of the right to free speech.

4. tek - May 3, 2006

I’m in America now and I wasn’t able to access technorati.com or .jp on May 2nd. I thought it was just the site itself. I guess it being China, sites becoming inaccessible or just disappearing has a whole other connotation.

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