Access to online services such as messaging app Line and photo-sharing
site Flickr was disrupted in China this week, a step anti-censorship
groups said was carried out by the government to block information about
pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Reuters reporters in China were
unable to send messages on Line, owned by South Korea's Naver Corp, and
KakaoTalk, owned by South Korean firm Kakao Corp. Both companies told
Reuters they did not know the cause of the disruption or when the
services would return to normal.
Users and Reuters reporters also
could not access Yahoo Inc's Flickr photo sharing site and Microsoft
Corp's OneDrive cloud storage service.
Microsoft declined to give immediate comment. Yahoo was unavailable for immediate comment.
is not a technical malfunction," said a member of China-based
anti-censorship site GreatFire.org, who goes by the pseudonym of Charlie
"I imagine these latest blocks are attributable to the
Hong Kong demonstrations," Smith said, adding that the services may have
been blocked because they can be used for photo sharing.
Tuesday, thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched in Hong Kong in
one of the biggest challenges to China's Communist Party rule in more
than a decade.
Some users of Chinese microblog Weibo Corp who
commented on the march said on social media that their accounts had been
blocked or removed.
Chinese authorities with oversight of the Internet were not immediately available for comment.
said that it already cooperates with China's government to censor
banned phrases. "In order for Line to advance into China, there was the
need to adapt to the local environment," a company spokeswoman said.
President Xi Jinping took power last year, the government has throttled
online dissent and harshly punished those it views as critics of
Communist Party rule and threats to its stability. Campaigns to 'clean
the Internet' and get rid of rumour mongering and pornographic material
have affected both domestic and overseas Internet services.
has also disrupted a number of Google Inc services in the country for
the past month, including its search engine, Gmail e-mail client and its
online advertising services.
The Google disruption began in the
run-up to the 25th anniversary of government's bloody crackdown on
pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
© Thomson Reuters 2014