Flickr Blocked Hardcore

Recently Flickr images were being blocked, but not the site. I posted a link to a workaround.

Now the whole site is full-on blocked.

From Jonathan:

> I’m told that this is a layer 7 (application layer) block, which is apparently serious.

Layer 7? I don’t know what that means, but this is quite inconvenient.

[more news]

Update: As of 11:36am, Flickr seems to be back, unblocked.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Yahoo is blocked as well. Its China properties (, are not, however.

    Here’s more about “layer 7 blocks”:,289483,sid14_gci1244531,00.html

    It appears that you can still pull the HTML, but as soon as your browser starts downloading eye candy (ie, images, stylesheets, etc), the GFW immediately cuts all connections between you and flickr causing the entire page to error 500. Subsequent connections are blocked for about 2-3 minutes, after which you can start pulling HTML again.

    Thanks Cisco!

  2. I’m in Nanjing and I can’t access anything Yahoo at all (since last evening) to include my mail.

  3. Yes, I noticed yahoo was gone as of yesterday. Anybody got any guesses as to WHY?

  4. Yahoo put out a press release condemning censorship in China after a relative of one of the jailed journalists whose e-mail was handed over to authorities by Yahoo filed suit against the company. Just recently. Maybe related to that.

  5. I figured out a workaround — it’s a bit techie, but it works:

    1. Install the access flickr firefox add-on
    2. Paste the following lines into your C:windowssystem32driversetchosts.txt file:

    Open a command prompt and type “ipconfig /flushdns”

    The problem seems to be coming from the yahoo block, NOT the flickr block. Flickr does a yahoo redirect which you can circumvent with the steps above.

  6. The hosts filename got munged, here’s the right file:


    You should change C to whatever drive you installed Windows on.

  7. One more, and sorry for the spam, John, the comment editing isn’t working for me.

    You need to be logged out of flickr in order to see anything. That means you have to clear out your yahoo and flickr cookies. It also means you can’t upload and edit your profile 🙁

  8. I can access Flickr fine from Beijing’s academic network/universities-wide ISP, CERNET 塞尔网络, though the image servers are still blocked.

  9. I access it just fine from my work network in Shanghai, with the Access Flickr extension installed.

  10. Yahoo is back.


  11. Might be worth trying

  12. Yes, it seems to have been lifted. From my reckoning it was down for about 15 hours or so. Very strange goings on indeed.

  13. All hail Picasa!
    It’s free. It doesn’t offer all of the same services, but it’s not.

  14. FYI, I’m not sure why the application layer would be considered most serious, actually it’s the least. I doubt highly it’s an application layer issue as then you’d be blocked from all browser to internet access. Packets would be blocked at the session and network levels.

    If the whole site is blocked, then it’s just an IP address block at the China based name servers. Depending on propagation of the list, you’d see varying symptoms in different parts of China.

    The seven layers of the OSI Basic Reference Model are (from bottom to top):

    1. The Physical Layer
    2. The Data Link Layer
    3. The Network Layer
    4. The Transport Layer
    5. The Session Layer
    6. The Presentation Layer
    7. The Application Layer
  15. Das Mensch Says: June 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    It is beyond my comprehension, why people in China accept this obvious horrific and unjust censorship. Perhaps it’s my European upbringing that speaks here, but in our part of the world the people would never ever accept this form for mind control. Why doesn’t anyone protest?

  16. Das Mensch,
    See post # 4. Everything is ALWAYS happy-go-lucky, Shazam Sargent (!), nothing to see behind the curtain-move along now, Harmonious in the land of Sinosplice.

    …just like China, in fact. 😉

  17. Optional: Firefox+Tor+Vidalia=Real Internet in China

  18. This is strange indeed.
    It almost seems as though the same thing happened with flickr as with yahoo yesterday.

    About the same downtime for both.

  19. kastner’s approach is my approach as well. Let’s you get on anything… though with a slight slow down.

  20. @Rick: It was answered higher up there in the comments… as Flickr is owned by Yahoo, there’s some of the same blocking going on between them. They are directly connected – no coincidence.

    @Das: Most Chinese are too busy worrying about survival to be too overly concerned with protesting censorship. When you don’t know how to swim, rocking the boat seems like a much more dangerous thing to do (and Chinese that can swim are certainly in the minority).

  21. Mike, kastner,

    I switched to HTTPTunnel recently, it’s faster than Tor. However, it has its own limitation as well.

  22. @Money,
    The only problem is there might be security issues using Tor, but it’s fine, you can simply remove any site you need to avoid involving in login/password worry.
    When you find the surfing speed drops, try updating to Tor latest version, they release beta versions regularly.
    HTTPTunnel is another thing, does it relate to host firewall block? but what we have to access is GFW… i don’t have trouble with local ports, but i know it’ll solve your’s. 😛

  23. […] Flickr Blocked Hardcore | Sinosplice: Life in China Here’s more about “layer 7 blocks”:,289483,sid14_gci1244531,00.html […]

  24. Das Mensch says:

    It is beyond my comprehension, why people in China accept this obvious horrific and unjust censorship. Perhaps it’s my European upbringing that speaks here, but in our part of the world the people would never ever accept this form for mind control. Why doesn’t anyone protest?

    You have to put things into perspective. It’s not just your European upbringing, it’s your European 20th Century upbringing. I would imagine there was quite a bit of censorship going on during the days of Henry VIII in England, or look at what was going on in Germany 60 years ago. Things weren’t always as free and transparent as they are today. Afterall, the United States always criticizes China’s policies on (you know what), and we are a country in which black people were slaves less than 2 centuries ago. A democratic system takes time to develop, and people who grow up in developed western countries (i.e. you and me) can’t just expect China and other developing countries to suddenly adopt the freedoms and liberties which took hundreds of years to develop in our societies as well.

  25. John-
    I just used the blockquote tag on your quicktags, and for some reason that above quoted section came out huge…you might want to edit it from your end, although it does look kind of cool in an artsy fartsy kind of way.

  26. Mench, as I recall Yahoo! and even Google have been forced by European governments to filter their search topics on certain subjects, especially those that could inflame sensitivities about Nazis, Scientology, or the Holocaust . Didn’t France force some Nazi memorabilia off of Ebay a while back? Hasn’t the press in Sweden and Norway largely been censored of mentioning of the fact that the vast majority of the people being assaulted are assaulted by Muslim immigrants?

    To my American sensibilities, it seems that we should be able to talk about ideas, even ideas like Scientology, Nazism or how dangerous immigrants are. If the ideas are flawed, debate the idiots, don’t simply muzzle them. I don’t marvel at how Europeans can live like that, though. It’s just a different upbringing and different ideas about what’s acceptable.

    Sure, there’s a lot of censorship in China, and it’s more restrictive than that of any first world country. But censorship is everywhere, including Europe.

    German Flickr censorship causes web outcry | Stricter legislation
    Fears of self-censorship at French news outlets

    Ben, I’ve been stung by that on this blog, too. Put a blank line before and after each blockquote.

  27. Das Mensch Says: July 2, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Ben: I agree with what you say. True democracy takes time to develop, and maybe our Western democracy isn’t even for all.

    Mark: Well, in my European country, everything is up for debate. Scientology, Nazism and immigrants. Our constitution says that there can never be any censorship, and we truly believe in that. But you’re right. Europe as a whole is far from being perfect.

    However, Europeans protest — in large numbers — when politicians come up with freedom restricting laws. We have a genuive debate. But as concerns China, the general attitude among the Chinese (and surprisingly foreigners living in China) seems to despondent and even unconcerned. The response is not rarely, “We’re doing alright. At least it’s better than before.” That concerns me.

    Thoughts should not be kept in chains.

Leave a Reply