After Facebook, Chinese Govt Blocks Most Features on WhatsApp

Internet service providers in the country reportedly started blocking WhatsApp on 23 September.

2 min read
File photo of WhatsApp logo.

In a bid to strengthen surveillance, the Chinese government has reportedly “largely disrupted” the use of WhatsApp – the popular instant messaging application. The move comes ahead of the grand Communist Party meet scheduled to begin on 18 October, reported The New York Times.

Internet service providers in the country reportedly started blocking the service on 23 September.

According to the report, the government had in mid-July placed restrictions on the usage of the application. It blocked various features, including sending photos and documents via the applications.

The video calling feature was also disabled. While these restrictions were removed in a few weeks after imposition, the app itself has reportedly been widely disrupted now.

WhatsApp was the only one of Mark Zuckerberg’s products to be available for use by the citizens of China. Facebook, Zuckerberg’s flagship product, has been banned in China since 2009. The photo-sharing platform Instagram is also not available for use in the country.

China has a history of imposing restrictions on internet applications, and this is not just restricted to Facebook-owned company. Google and Twitter are also blocked in the country.

WhatsApp has not released an official statement in response to the blockage yet. Timothy Heath, senior defence research analyst told CNN that the “strong encryption” by WhatsApp was the reason behind the disruption.

The government wants to monitor internet communications, and therefore, it’s trying to steer its people to use technology that can be accessed and monitored by the government.
Timothy Heath

WeChat, an instant messaging platform similar to WhatsApp, is widely used by the public as an alternative to WhatsApp. The government-run WeChat sent a notice to its users, earlier this month, and asked them to comply with “official requests for information.”

(With inputs from New York Times, CNN)

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