A new move from the Chinese government has led to a complete block of text messages on widely popular messaging platform WhatsApp. The move follows after several hints that the government was not very fond of the encrypted system in the app. Earlier, users on China were barred from sharing images and videos through the app.
According to a security expert, disruptions in the service started on September 20 followed by a complete block by September 25. And this isn’t anything new in China. The Communist regime has in the past clamped down on other open social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Despite that, some services like Apple’s FaceTime is still working that also has end-to-end encryption. Perhaps, the reason is that Apple’s service doesn’t get secret code sharing while WhatsApp service does make use of it to ward off ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks.
This opens the doors of opportunity for competitors like WeChat that is also a widely preferred alternative to WhatsApp. WeChat currently boasts 963 million active users on its platform. Unsurprisingly, what it also has is a pledge with the Chinese government to share personal user data.
Perils of reporting on censorship in China: A day after everyone reported WhatApp was blocked, it appears to be working again.
— Josh Chin 李肇华 (@joshchin) September 26, 2017
There are no deadlines set for the ban as of now. However, some users have reported that the service has been functional after being down. A political reporter for Wall Street Journal in Beijing posted on his Twitter account that the service was working on September 26.