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Reports Suggest WhatsApp Is Blocked In China

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Another example of the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to control the internet

Business travellers to China could have problems accessing WhatsApp following reports the Facebook-owned messaging services has been censored by the government.

It has been claimed Chinese authorities are partially blocking the mobile messaging app so that photo, video and voice messages cannot be sent within the country.

Text messages have so far remained unaffected and the block appears to be sporadic in nature, according to the Guardian, although some local users have reported a total blackout on WhatsApp services.

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Access denied

China is notorious for having a tight grip on internet access, having made moves to block several of the worlds most popular digital services over the last few years, including the likes of Facebook, Google and Instagram.

Many services, including Facebook, Google and Instagram are inaccessible in the country, meaning meany turn to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). However in January the Chinese government started a VPN crackdown in an effort to curtail and outlaw their use.

Other Western firms have also found it difficult to do business in the country, something which is set to get even harder with the introduction of a restrictive data security law that mandates certain companies to hold data within the country.

Although WhatsApp is a long way behind local messaging app WeChat in terms of its number of Chinese users, it is the only one that is fully encrypted.

“By blocking WhatsApp, the authorities have shut down one of the few remaining free and encrypted messaging apps but, more importantly, they have also limited the ability for Chinese to have private conversations with their peers,” writes a prevalent Chinese censorship researcher.

“While the internet freedom community continues to develop unique and innovative circumvention tools we are doing very little to fight the climate of fear that Xi Jinping has manufactured in China.”

Silicon has contacted WhatsApp for comment.

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