Google now blames China for search engine outage


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Google is now blaming government censorship for a temporary outage of its search engine in mainland China.

Google initially attributed Tuesday’s outage to a technical glitch, a string of text “gs_rfai” that began appearing in Web addresses in the last 24 hours. Because of the characters “rfa,” Chinese filtering systems associated the searches with Radio Free Asia, which is inaccessible in China, the Internet search giant concluded. Google did not say how the string of text was created. Chinese Internet users speculated Tuesday that the addition of the characters triggered the error messages.


But, after an investigation, Google on Tuesday blamed the outage on China’s Internet filtering system.

“It’s clear we actually added this parameter a week ago. So whatever happened today to block must have been as a result of a change in the Great Firewall,” a Google spokesman said. “Our search traffic in China is now back to normal even though we have not made any changes at our end. We will continue to monitor what is going on, but for the time being this issue seems to be resolved.”

-- Jessica Guynn