A number of internet users in China are reporting problems using the international version of Google’s site, which has prompted speculation that the site is being disrupted by government censors.
Many of Google’s China users have only been able to access the site intermitently over the past few days.
A spokesperson for Google said “We have heard reports of users in China experiencing problems in accessing Google.com. We are investigating this matter.”
China rarely lets people know when they are censoring sites, so an official confirmation of the censorship is not likely.Â However, the problems that users are experience are very similar to those of other censored sites.
In 2002, Google.com was blocked entirely within China.Â It was only reinstated after worldwide protests.Â Now, many believe that China is attacking the international site after Google set up a censored China-based version of the site.
The recent problems with Google.com are the worst in years, prompting speculation that the introduction of Google.cn has emboldened the government to take action against Google.com.
“It was only to be expected that Google.com would be gradually sidelined after the censored version was launched in January,” says Reporters Without Borders, a media freedom watchdog.
According to Google’s estimations, 99% of users within China use the international version of the site.Â A paltry 1% use the Google.cn site.
In other news, Google is also reportedly in talks with China Mobile to collaborate on mobile search in China.