[Update 22 Dec. 2008, 3:30PM: Apparently the site is, once again, available. Again, it's hard to tell if China's Internet censors reversed themselves, or corrected a mistake, or simply wanted to remind the Times that access to China's users is not automatic (pour encourager les autres, as Voltaire wrote).]
Expats will despair: the New York Times Web site appears to be blocked in China. (The Times itself reports on the development, and includes a quote from a Times spokesperson. It’s almost a parody, except of course for the seriousness of the issue.) My friend and Berkman colleague Rebecca MacKinnon is quoted.
It’s hard to tell if this will last, or if there is some (temporary) reason why the blocking is occurring. As the Times article makes clear, it’s hard to know which door to knock on in China – there are a dozen governmental entities with some role in Internet regulation – when you want to protest or find out about filtering. Oddly, the BBC is apparently available, along with Voice of America. This is what makes China’s Internet controls so powerful and Kafka-esque: you never know exactly what’s happening, or why.
This will make me enjoy my dead tree version of the Times tomorrow over brunch all the more…