All BBC websites blocked in China

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) websites and mobile application are all currently blocked in China, following a decision by the corporation to change the website's format from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol, as confirmed to WikiTribune by the BBC.

The corporation has issued a statement recommending that people in the region looking to access its services should turn to either a virtual private network (VPN) or the censorship-busting app Psiphon.

It is thought that people in China have been unable to access any BBC sites or services for around a week because of the use of HTTPS. The Chinese government is notoriously strict about what its citizens are able to access online, and the Great Firewall of China frequently blocks access to encrypted sites because it is not possible to vet them.

“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.

In a recent blog post, James Donohue, the principal software engineer in BBC News, explained why the website had made the transition and why BBC pages now had a green padlock next to the address on the top left-hand side.

The BBC spokesperson said:

“We regret this loss of service. 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. The last time BBC services were blocked to this extent in China was in 2014 and we call on all parties to observe the UN Declaration of Human Rights, article 19.”