GitHub partially unblocked in China following public outcry from local developers

GitHub partially unblocked in China following public outcry from local developers

Code repository GitHub has been at least partially unblocked in China after access to the site was completely restricted earlier this week.

The move, presumably from China’s censorship bureau, caused a fracas among Chinese developers, many of whom rely on the site for their work. Of course, it also came as a blow to GitHub, as China was its fourth largest source of visitors.

It’s not clear yet whether access to the site from within China will return to normal levels, but some connections do appear to be going through.

The site is now working for me from Beijing, and a test on Website Pulse showed that a Shanghai server was able to load, though it took 5 seconds to do so, compared to 0.1 seconds from a location in New York. Great Fire China updated its original report to note that the website does appear to have been unblocked again.

Users are reporting on Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo that the site is working again. Moonlight Blog’s William Long noted that DNS poisoning – a tactic frequently used by the Chinese censors to block websites – on GitHub appeared to have been canceled, though it could take up to 24 hours for it to clear up.

Former Google China head and Innovation Works founder Kai-Fu Lee had been vocal on Weibo about the blockage. His post about the issue received over 78,000 reposts and 17,000 comments.

The government’s reasons for limiting access to the site remain unknown, but the most likely cause is a browser plug-in that had been posted to GitHub that helped users purchase train tickets. Great Fire notes that the plug-in became so popular that it actually temporarily took down GitHub because it was using files directly on the site. Officials have reportedly contacted domestic companies to request that they disable similar plug-ins in their software.

We’ve contacted GitHub for comment on this latest development.

Image via Shutterstock

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