The Strange Case of Bitcointalk’s Chinese Ban
In a move no less curious than its previous attempts, China has blocked a popular Bitcoin website from being accessed on its domestic servers – but why?
China’s ‘Great Firewall’ has long been the subject variously of wonder and bewilderment, and now it is the turn of arguably the most active Bitcoin forum, Bitcointalk.org, to have the lights turned off.
According to a Reddit thread, requests submitted to the testing site greatfirewallofchina.org came back unsuccessful from all provinces’ IP addresses at present. The shift in accessibility came as a surprise to many, especially as it seems to be a one-off instance and not part of a wider concerted effort, as has been previously been the case.
Attention was further drawn to a response by user u/alanX, who commented, “I'm at the Bitcoin Conference in Shanghai, and I can access Bitcointalk.org just fine. Google and google drive, no. Can't access them, but no problem accessing Bitcointalk.org.”
Newsbtc adds that coming from within the Shanghai Free Trade Zone it is possible that this latest addition is not subject to an all-out ban. Reddit users clarified the matter, however, with u/Liongrass stating, “… the Bitcoin conference wasn't hosted inside the Free Trade Zone. The Bitcoin conference however provided the participants with censorship-free internet via a proxy service.”
China made the news regarding the same issue in May, when CoinDesk reported suspension of access to its site and several others including non-media related resources such as Blockchain.info. Cointelegraph.com and other media sites have thus far been spared this week.
Meanwhile, Bitcointalk users have taken to pondering the significance of the ban, which in line with other blocked sites such as Facebook and Twitter, can be circumvented via use of a VPN connection, as sites are banned by IP address and not domain. Such services have seen attempts at blocking, it is reported, but as doing so is practically impossible, they are in general available for use.
Cointelegraph reached out to the Chinese Bitcoin community for its perspective on the move, and the mood seemed less than panicked.
“I don't believe this indicates any further ban against Bitcoin, more likely that some government officials want to do nothing and play safe,” a spokesman for the Shanghai-based LakeBTC exchange said. The company also added:
“To Chinese government officials, they don’t care about Bitcoin but they care about a group of people gathering together to protest.”
Nonetheless, the reason for targeting this specific outlet for Bitcoin observers remains a mystery. As of September 25, Bitcointalk.org remains blocked.
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