The Great Firewall has apparently expanded. Gmail hasn't been directly accessible for six months in China; now users can't reach it through third-party services like Microsoft Outlook either. The latest crackdown on Google in the country appears to have begun on Friday, according to Google data, the Wall Street Journal reports. Traffic has cratered, but "there's nothing wrong on our end," a Google spokesman said today. The closest the Journal got to a statement from China was this: A rep for China's foreign ministry today said she hadn't heard about the issue and that China "always welcomes foreign businesses to carry out relevant work."
"I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google's presence in China and even weaken its market overseas," says a free-speech activist per Reuters. "Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail." Users in China can still access Gmail and other barred services if they use virtual private networks, reports note. The initial move against Gmail came in June, ahead of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest crackdown, the Verge reports. Google services like Search, Maps, Drive, and YouTube are also blocked in the country, as are Facebook and Twitter.