Yahoo, Google note new problems in China
BEIJING — Yahoo e-mail accounts belonging to foreign journalists appeared to have been hacked and Google’s Chinese search engine was intermittently blocked yesterday, the latest troubles in China’s heavily censored Internet market.
The Yahoo Inc. accounts of at least three journalists and an analyst became inaccessible over the last few weeks. They were greeted with messages saying, “We’ve detected an issue with your account’’ and were told to contact Yahoo, they said yesterday. Yahoo technicians told one of the four that his account had been hacked and restored his access, but it was not clear if the other instances were related.
Sensitivity about Internet security has run high since Google Inc. announced in January it might leave China after a series of cyber attacks and complaints about censorship. Last week, Google made a partial retreat, shutting down its search engine in mainland China and redirecting those queries offshore, to the freer territory of Hong Kong.
Analysts have been watching closely to see if China retaliates for Google’s high-profile departure from the mainland search engine market.
Many redirected queries appeared blocked yesterday on the search engine based in Hong Kong.
Google initially blamed the trouble on an internal revision.
But after further investigation, the company said it realized the changes in its search settings had occurred a week ago without disrupting its results in mainland China. That discovery led Google to conclude the trouble stemmed from changes in China’s “Great Firewall’’ — the nickname for the tools the government uses to block access to sites deemed to be subversive or pornographic.
Without doing anything on its end, Google said its search traffic from mainland China appeared to be flowing freely again early this morning in Beijing.