China blocks WhatsApp to tighten online censorship

By : |September 26, 2017 0

China has a long-standing history of blocking popular social networking apps. After blocking the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google, China has now officially blocked WhatsApp in the country. The instant messaging service which was partially available in the past seems to be non-functional now. According to the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), the Chinese internet service providers blocked access to WhatsApp on September 23.

Users in China have reported widespread disruptions in recent days to the Facebook-owned service, with users unable to send video chats or photos. Now, even text messages are completely blocked, according to Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a Paris-based research firm that also monitors digital censorship in China.

Even after blocking these services, some users may still access them through Virtual Private Networks(VPN), or with tools that disguise internet traffic to circumvent censorship. The Chinese government also launched a crackdown on the VPNs this year.

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The block on WhatsApp puts a dent in Facebook’s plans to expand more services, considering Facebook and Instagram are already blocked in the country and its only remaining stake now is the Colorful Balloons app that it stealthily released last month.

The latest move by Beijing to step up surveillance comes ahead of a big Communist Party congress next month, where the government is slated to choose its new leader.

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