China Blocks WhatsApp Messenger

A few months ago, the Chinese government blocked sharing of video, images and other files on WhatsApp in the country but those blocks lifted within a few days.

But now the Chinese government completely blocked text messages on WhatsApp to tighten censorship in anticipation of the Communist Party’s congress to be held in Beijing next month.

The New York Times reported today that WhatsApp had been “broadly disrupted in China.”

According to Nadim Kobeissi,  an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a Paris-based research firm that monitors WhatsApp’s situation in China said,”the Chinese government has blocked its users from sending text messages in the country.

Nadim also said,” it is still unclear how long the service will be disrupted”.

In July, China blocked WhatsApp’s ability to send videos, photos and files, but allowed again a few weeks later.

Nadim Kobeissi found that China may have adapted its firewall to detect and block NoiseSocket protocol that WhatsApp use to send text messages. WhatsApp is probably blocked because of its strong encryption feature which comes in between government monitoring.

The country currently blocks some of the world’s leading websites, including Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many Google services in China.

Under the country policy of Internet censorship, search engine Google and all of its products like the Maps, YouTube and Gmail are permanently blocked.

The move is a big blow to Facebook, which has been banned in the country since 2009. With blocking WhatsApp Facebook’s only hope in photo-sharing app, Colorful Balloons, that it stealthily released last month in China.

By blocking the messenger app, the Chinese government wants its people to use an alternative like WeChat, according to reports WeChat provide all users personal data to the Chinese government. WeChat, which already has 963 million active users and will benefit from the blockage as one of the competitors is out from the market.

WhatsApp declined to comment on the blockage.

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