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Productivity app Notion blocked in China

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Notion, a US-based software company, seems to have joined the long list of apps and platforms blocked in China.

Its up-and-coming collaboration and productivity tool is an all-in-one workspace for taking notes and managing data, projects, and tasks. This is the type of software that has seen growing usage during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and employees switching to remote work.

The app on Monday appeared to be blocked by China’s Great Firewall – a tight network of censorship tools and laws that regulate, often by blocking, access to the internet in the country.

It’s unclear what the reason for blocking Notion might have been, but there is some speculation that it could have taken place in response to a Chinese copycat competitor shutting down its own service after it was exposed.

This is a reference to Hanzhou, whose founder recently admitted to basing the app on Notion, putting his own product on hold. But that’s not to say Notion – that is often described as an Evernote alternative – doesn’t have other competitors in China, including tools provided by giants like Tencent and Alibaba.

Notion says that it is “monitoring the situation” and said that it believes the block is being lifted in some regions in China.

Notion never mentioned the Great Wall of China as the culprit for the service outage – citing instead “a firewall” – but users who reacted to the announcement had no doubt the problem was linked to this massive censorship and internet control project.

Whether or not the current block is temporary or permanent, reports speculate that, having recently grown in popularity in mainland China, Notion will have to eventually either accept Beijing’s rules or get out of that market, like many other major western tech companies have had to do.

Some speculate that Notion was used in China to publish content that is censored by domestic giant Weibo, while the timing of the issue coincides with the ruling CCP party’s conferences.

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