China is going to host Communist party congress next month. And now the government of the country increased online censorship. WhatsaApp calling were already blocked in China this summer. But now users reported about complete WhatsApp blockade.
WhatsApp has been disrupted several times in the past few months with users complaining they were unable to send videos and images without using a virtual private network (VPN) that circumvents China’s “Great Firewall”. But service usually has returned to normal in quick time. This is the first time the service apparently was entirely offline, even if temporarily. WhatsApp declined to comment.
China’s censors frequently block access to apps and websites before quickly allowing normal service to resume.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways.”
Now China has its own social networks and messaging like WeChat. But activists and foreign companies have long favoured WhatsApp because of its end-to-end encryption, which means the company does not have the keys with which to decrypt and expose private messages even if it came under pressure from government or law enforcement to do so. The disruption comes as China is seeking greater control over how the internet is used within its borders, with a new cyber security law taking effect in June. The country’s leaders are especially on edge ahead of the 19th Party Congress next month, a high-level meeting that will decide China’s next slate of leaders. In July, censors temporarily blocked users of Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social media site, who were posting about Winnie the Pooh and removed animated gifs from WeChat. President Xi Jinping previously had been unfavourably compared to the portly fictional bear.
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