Whatsapp has been blocked in China
Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, has been blocked in China, although only partially. This has taken place due to the censorship crackdown that is being out by the Chinese government as of late.
On Monday night, according to Beijing standard time, users complained that photographs and audio clips that they were sending to their contacts on Whatsapp, were not delivering. By the following morning, they had taken to social media to inform the rest of the world about the issues that they were facing.
WhatsApp spokespeople have refused to comment about what has happened in China, however, people close to the matter say that they are not the reason that the application was blocked.
This is the latest in the series of censorship controls that the Chinese government has been carrying out as part of its “Great Firewall”. The “Great Firewall” is how the Chinese government wants to filter and control everything that is being disseminated to its people.
In the past few weeks, an increase in this form of censorship has been seen in China with a new cyber security law that was made effective last month. There have also been a number of politically sensitive events and news that have been taking place, which have furthered the control over the media. This includes the death of Liu Xiaobo while he was in detention. Liu, a Chinese billionaire who lived in the United States, had been accusing senior leaders in China of graft, through Twitter.
A few instances of this type of control were seen when the speaker of the Communist Party scolded Tencent, an internet company in China, citing that their video game was too addictive. The tools that are used by the people of China to prevent the censors from taking over have been facing more regular disruptions than they regularly do. Websites that show television shows from across the world have also had certain content taken down in China.
The fact that the 19th Party Congress is coming up, is probably reason for the increased censorship at this time. This Party Congress happens every five years and determines who will be taking over the leadership of China.
Another probable reason could be that the Chinese government wanted to bring over the WhatsApp users to WeChat, where there is no form of encryption and all messages can be read. Chinese telecom regulators have also said that starting from February 2018, unauthorized VPNs will be banned in China.
It is not known to anyone at this point if the ban is going to be permanent or temporary. In the past, partial bans have led to complete bans while there have also been instances of service being restored by the government.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google and Gmail have all faced complete bans in China. Only time will be able to tell if this ban is going to be converted into a permanent ban or if it is only because of the political situation that exists in China at the moment.