China has already blocked access to a number of internet companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google. Now China blocks Whatsapp as well.
China has already restricted using multiple services of WhatsApp. Users of Whatsapp in China couldn’t use the services of file sharing, photo and video sharing and even voice messages. Text messages, however, were being used without any interruption, but China has now banned sending text messages and WhatsApp is completely out of service now.
WhatsApp has experienced disturbance over past few months, not being able to send videos and photos.
Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software said,
“I think it took time for the Chinese firewall to adapt to this new protocol so that it could also target text messages.”
His company noticed the app disruptions beginning last Wednesday. Kobeissi found that China may have recently upgraded its firewall to detect and block the NoiseSocket protocol that WhatsApp uses to send texts, in addition to already blocking the HTTPS/TLS that WhatsApp uses to send photos and videos.
The move is a setback to Facebook, as it has has been banned in China since 2009 and is also the owner of WhatsApp. With the blocking of WhatsApp, Facebook’s only remaining stake in China is the Colorful Balloons app that it stealthily released last month.
19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
The censorship might be due to the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. As WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, which keeps users’ messages private and can be a security threat. other Chinese apps like WeChat provide all users’ personal data to the Chinese government. WeChat, which already has 963 million active users, stands to benefit from one of its last foreign competitors being pushed out of the market. WhatsApp has refused to comment on this matter so far.
According to Timothy Heath, senior international defense research analyst at the RAND Corporation, the Chinese government does not like that WhatsApp uses strong encryption.
“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,” Heath told CNN.