GitHub Blocked In China – Train Ticket Booking Plugin May Be To Blame

It appears that Chinese censors may well have blocked off access to project hosting site GitHub, apparently in a dispute over a train booking plugin.

Testing with ViewDNS.info yields the following result –

firewall

– which clearly shows the site, which has just celebrated reaching 3 million users, is completely inaccessible throughout China. Incidentally, China ranks 4th amongst all the countries of the world in terms of visits to GitHub.

Those behind ‘The Great Firewall Of China’ are never forthcoming as to why certain sites are blocked but it is generally believed to concern web properties believed to be spreading anti-government views. In this case, however, it would seem a different reason may be behind the blocking – a dispute over a train ticket booking plugin.

Such ‘ticket snatching’ plugins are hugely popular right now as the Chinese New Year approaches. Potential travellers are rushing to the official national train ticket site – 12306.cn – only to find slow and unresponsive pages and/or errors. To get around this problem some browser providers have enabled plugins which will constantly refresh the site and will alert the user when it is possible to book a ticket.

Such plugins apparently use files hosted by GitHub but have led to a massive upsurge in traffic to 12306.cn, leading to the Ministry of Industry And Information Technology to demand that browser providers stop offering them. Chinese authorities may well have gone the extra step and blocked GitHub just make sure the plugins no longer cause the issues that are concerning them.

 

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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