China's Great Firewall, used by the government to regulate access to foreign websites, has blocked one of the most popular ETH browser Etherscan.
04 December, 2019 | AtoZ Markets – On Tuesday, etherscan.io was inaccessible from IP addresses in mainland China, based on tests conducted locally. And it is one of the most widely used ether block explorers.
GreatFire Blocks ETH Block Explorer Etherscan.io
The change seems recent. According to Greatfire.org, etherscan.io was still accessible with "no censorship detected" as of 18 August, 2019. Greatfire.org compiles and monitors a database of blocked sites in China.
But the recording of Greatfire.org shows that etherscan.io is 100% blocked since at least 30 October. That makes it inaccessible from China, except via a virtual private network (VPN).
This is probably the first known case of a blockchain browser that becomes an Internet firewall target. And that puts etherscan.io in the company of blocked news and social media sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
"This is yet another example of friction between the decentralized and immutable blockchain technology and the tightly controlled, centralized government of China. Other problems of this kind can be in the future as the blockchain becomes more integrated into the Chinese economy and daily life." Matthew Graham, CEO of the blockchain investment company Sino Global Capital, said that.
Reasons Behind the Block
It is not immediately clear what exactly led to the blocking of a blockchain explorer in China. But last year, cryptocurrency users encoded censored articles. That was about the #Metoo movement and a pharmaceutical scandal in China on ethereum transactions in a bid to bypass internet censorship.
Internet users shared the hash of these transactions on WeChat using etherscan.io. That even prompted WeChat to block the display of etherscan.io exact URLs from the messaging application. The Etherscan.io site itself remained intact at the time.
"Some have used this feature to display sensitive messages without having to worry about the block or delete of message," said Graham. "Anyone with an explorer-like Etherscan can see these messages, so it's no surprise that this site is in the sights of Internet censorship."
Matthew Tan, founder and CEO of Etherscan, said his company noticed the block in the last three months. But he was not sure of the exact date. He said he does not know why this happened and, therefore, "cannot speculate on what the reasons might be."
A blockchain browser is just an online portal. That also allows end-users to navigate the transaction information of a decentralized network more easily. The actual transactions in the blockchain don't store in a centralized database. And, therefore, it cannot be deleted by a single entity, regardless of their geographic location. So far, other explorers of the ethereum are still accessible from mainland China.
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