Reports over the weekend that a number of carriers had simultaneously blocked access to Cydia over 3G raised concerns that a de facto takedown of the popular alternative app marketplace might be in progress. Although Three Ireland claims that the blockage was the result of an error
at a service provider, China Unicom
appears to still be restricting its 3G users from accessing Cydia, and there are reports that Vodafone in the UK is also
blacklisting the site.
Users of the Three networks in the British Isles began receiving "Sorry, we were unable to retrieve this web site for you" when trying to access Cydia over 3G, despite the fact that they were still able to get to Cydia via WiFi links to regular broadband connections. This clearly indicated that Three in the UK and in Ireland was blocking Cydia's servers, and as the news spread, reporters contacted the carrier to investigate. According to spokesman Chris Jones
, Three in Ireland and the UK use a third party service provider called Bluecoat to do content filtering. Cydia was apparently "accidentally" added to the provider's blacklist, and at last report the carrier was working to correct the error
Less clear is the situation in China. Users of China Unicom's network reported the outage at around the same time
, and though it cannot be known for sure, the likelihood that a state-owned carrier behind the Great Firewall of China uses the same content-filtering service as networks in the UK and Ireland seems pretty remote. Sporadic reports of blockage over Vodafone's network
suggest that something more than an "accident" may be taking place.
The story is still developing, and it's unlikely that we'll know the real cause soon, if ever. Initial speculations that Apple was behind the blockage remain unconfirmed, and unless a whistleblower comes forward that may have to remain a conspiracy theory. These events, however, come at a time when concerns are mounting, particularly in Europe
, about ISPs and carriers censoring content at the request of governments and big businesses. As long as "net neutrality" remains an unresolved issue in the United States, these issues may come to plague users in Cydia's homeland as well.
, image via BeijingiPhoneRepair.com