Breaking: All BBC websites blocked in China, after migrating to HTTPS


The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) websites and mobile application have been blocked in China following its transition from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol, as confirmed to WikiTribune by the BBC.

“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,” a BBC spokesperson told WikiTribune on Wednesday.

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The spokesperson added that the corporation’s online audience in China has had no access to any of the BBC’s websites for around a week. “We regret this loss of service and recommend the use of VPN or the Psiphon app, to regain access. We continue to work with local service providers so that specific BBC content can be made directly available to our audience in China. The recent Royal Wedding coverage is a good example of this,” they said.

The Chinese embassy in London has not answered WikiTribune‘s requests for comment made on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Although the BBC’s English-language website was blocked in 2014, this seems to be first time the BBC’s app has been blocked.

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The BBC transitioned to HTTPS protocol in the last few weeks, which makes it significantly harder for internet service providers to delete individual pieces of content or track which articles or videos users have been looking at (The Guardian).

When the BBC’s English-language website was blocked four years ago, then-BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks said it appeared to be “deliberate censorship.” The reason for that block still remains unclear.

The BBC’s website is one of around 8,000 to be blocked in mainland China by the government’s internet censorship policy. Users who wish to access the BBC must do so through virtual private networks.

Charlie Smith, co-founder of GreatFire.org, a non-profit organization that tracks internet censorship in China, told WikiTribune that the BBC and other news organizations need to take proactive measures to add anti-censorship technology into their mobile apps.

“All news media should assume that their website and apps will get blocked by the Chinese authorities. If you are going to invest in creating Chinese language news then you know that the likelihood of it getting blocked is almost 100 percent,” he said.

“It is astounding that news organizations do not make simultaneous investments in ensuring that this news can be consumed by audiences in China even if the authorities make moves to block it,” Smith added.

On Tuesday, 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.”

WikiTribune took screenshots (see the sources and references section) from Comparitech.com, ViewDNS.info, VPNMentor.com, and Webpagetest.org showing that access to the BBC’s website is currently blocked.

Which other countries have banned the BBC? Add more information here:

At various points, and for various reasons, parts or all of the BBC have also been banned from:

  • Zimbabwe
  • Myanmar
  • Uzbekistan
  • Pakistan
  • Iran
  • Rwanda

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  • Sources
    Screenshot from Webpagetest.org
    Screenshot from Webpagetest.org
    Screenshot from VPNmentor.com
    Screenshot from VPNmentor.com
    Screenshot from ViewDNS.info
    Screenshot from ViewDNS.info
    Screenshot from Comparitech.com
    Screenshot from Comparitech.com

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