If the Great Wall of China were meant to keep intruders and invaders out, the country’s Great Firewall looks to do the same in the digital world. It is used by the government to help control what information its citizens can access on the Internet and is now blocking a major source of data for the Ethereum blockchain. According to a site that monitors sites inaccessible from inside China, Etherscan.io is no longer open to China-based computers.
Greatfire.org likes to keep track of what sites Chinese residents can, and can’t, take a look at. As of this past August, Etherscan.io was not on the firewall’s blacklist, but that has now changed and the blockchain explorer became “100%” blocked since sometime late October, perhaps as early as September. The only way to access the site now is through a virtual private network (VPN), but even these are being blocked, CoinDesk reported.
Sino Global Capital CEO Matthew Graham points out that this is just the latest in China’s move to control everything blockchain and cryptocurrency. The blockchain investment firm executive explains, “This is another instance of friction between the decentralized and immutable technology of blockchain and the tightly controlled, centralized government of China. We should expect additional problems like these in the future as blockchain is integrated further into the Chinese economy and daily life.”
Previous attempts to ensure agile data flows in and out of China have been thwarted, as well. WeChat users often used the popular Chinese social media platform to share Ethereum data before China forced the company to take charge. Graham adds, “Some have used this feature to post sensitive messages without the need to worry about the message being blocked or removed, or their identity being exposed. Anyone with a blockchain explorer like Etherscan can view these messages, so it is not surprising that this website has come in the crosshairs of internet censors.”
The news comes as Ethereum suffered last week at the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice. In defiance of established regulations and sanctions against North Korea, an Ethereum research scientist, Virgil Griffith, ignored all warnings to stay away and paid a trip to the country. His goal was to try to show how crypto could be used to circumvent the sanctions and the U.S. State Department had previously warned him not to make the April trip.
Because he didn’t listen, Griffith was arrested when he landed at LAX International Airport. His actions—defying established laws and trying to show how to use crypto illegally—are detrimental to the entire Bitcoin ecosystem and raise questions about the level of ethics behind Ethereum.
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