China’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’ has blocked the entirety of BBC’s websites after the British Broadcasting Corporation transitioned from HTTP to the more-secure HTTPS protocol.
According to a collaborative report by the WikiTribune, the BBC has confirmed that a switch over to HTTPs for all of its websites and mobile app – including the Chinese language site – has seen its online Chinese audience evaporate over the last week.
A BBC spokesperson told the WikiTribune:
In accordance with internet industry good practice, the BBC is currently changing the format of internet sites from HTTP to HTTPS. This means content is less vulnerable to tampering and specific pages on our websites can no longer be blocked. Recently the BBC Chinese language site has changed to this new format.
The BBC began moving to HTTPS over the last few weeks, making it harder for internet service providers to censor or remove individual pieces of content or track media or articles users have been looking at.
The Chinese firewall, as mandated by the government’s rigid internet censorship policy, has seen over 8,000 websites blocked in mainland China.
The BBC told WikiTribune: “It appears that much of the BBC’s content has been blocked in China. We are considering the best approach to re-establish services to our audience.”
As a consequence, the BBC is now recommending a VPN to bypass the Chinese firewall. “We regret this loss of service and recommend the use of VPN or the Psiphon app,” the spokesperson added. China has also largely banned VPN usage with certain exceptions granted by the authoritarian government toward businesses who continue to rely on VPNs for communications. However, the exceptions are limited to government-registered VPNs, who are likely to contain government backdoors.
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