China has been blocking social media services and news
since ages. To add to their pile of censorship china has blocked WhatsApp. The
news first broke by The NY Times*.

 

image art china blocked whatsapp
Image art by TechScoop
After Crackdown on cryptocurrencies, China blocks WhatsApp. China has been censoring the social media for controlling the content that may go against Communist Party and their leaders. Over few months the users have been experiencing disruptions in WhatsApp services. Users noticed that only text messages were getting through at times and even the smallest image or video wasn’t getting through WhatsApp.According to The Verge’s report, the security analysis done by Nadim Kobeissie of Symbolic Software revealed that China somehow limited the capability of WhatsApp to transmit multimedia. In some cases, even the text data wasn’t getting through.

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The extreme censorship came just after few months prior to 19th National Congress of the CCP. WhatsApp could have been blocked due to security reasons as End to End encryption provided by WhatsApp disrupts Chinese surveillance of online traffic.

How China blocks WhatsApp and its communications.

 

WhatsApp communicates using the NoiseSocket Protocol [1], China somehow learned to block the multimedia data in the encrypted payload of WhatsApp. As WhatsApp uses HTTPS/ TLS to send multimedia messages, the firewalls put up by Chinese authorities block any or all encrypted multimedia data coming through WhatsApp over https. It is not known how they were able to distinguish between multimedia data and text data. However, just after few months of disrupting video, audio and picture data, Chinese firewalls were able to identify text messages and started blocking them as well.

 

WeChat’s Surrender to Government

 

As China blocks WhatsApp, WeChat became a prominent app for communication in China, with a whopping 963 million active user base. WeChat is flourishing in China because it provides all user data to CCP and other third parties as well. This data includes all your personal information, including chats, videos, photographs etc. It has been updated in their Terms and Conditions under privacy statement and use of personal information section.[2] Since the WeChat is also used by millions of users outside of China as well, it has become a matter of concern to other countries’ citizen’s privacy. So if you are outside Chinese jurisdiction we suggest you not to use WeChat unless you have no issue with CCP handling your private information.

 

China blocks WhatsApp, VPNs & Cryptocurrencies while WeChat agreed to share personal data.
WeChat’s updated terms part

 

Impact of WhatsApp blockade

 

The blocking of WhatsApp is particularly harmful to interests of Facebook. Facebook has been banned in China since 2009 and now Facebook-owned WhatsApp has to bear similar fate. China has been a flourishing market and Facebook is trying to tap into biggest market in the world. Only recently Facebook launched “Balloons App”.

 

“Colorful Balloons” was designed to look like Facebook’s Moments app. The only difference was that instead of sharing photos and videos with friends and family using Facebook, they are shared using WeChat. Facebook went to great lengths to limit the popularity of app and its association with Facebook. Facebook released the unbranded “Colorful Balloons” app through a Chinese company “Youge Internet Technology”. It seems Facebook is testing waters by this app for their prospects in the Chinese market and trying to make sure they come up with a model that sits well with CCP and the Market. Mark Zuckerberg himself is in China for talks with CCP authorities.
China blocks WhatsApp, VPNs & Cryptocurrencies while WeChat agreed to share personal data.
Volume of Internet by Interest US vs China
Credit Business Insider / Chart of the Day

 

On Local Businesses and Academics:

 

Local Businesses are also getting a hard hit by constant censorship of Chinese authorities over the Internet. China is a growing market and there is a requirement of communication and sharing platforms. Amidst Alibaba and WeChat the Chinese small vendors are forced to revert back to emails and Sms for their order management and communication needs.  Academic research is limited to Chinese internet and they have adapted to their limitations.

 

On Media and Political freedom:

 

CCP has been particularly suspicious of any activity that may go against The Party or Chinese Interests. As a result, no other political ideology has been allowed to flourish in China. Taking notes from “Tehrir Square” in Egypt. Till now the Chinese businesses were accessing outside sites by VPNs but since they are also blocked, now they cannot use vital services for their businesses anymore. Protesters against the lines of CCP are preemptively arrested, any voice which even sounds like dissent is crushed. Using allowed chatting services such as WeChat is no longer a viable option for such people who pose against stands of CCP.

 

Alternate to Free Internet

 

The Chinese market has alternatives to free internet, Search engine Baidu whose search has been reported as even worse than Bing’s is a leading search engine service. WeChat shares your personal data with advertisers and CCP. Although there are apps which share your personal data without your consent more often. In China, RenRen is Facebook, Weibo is Twitter and QQ email is Gmail. All these services are heavily monitored by China and a single line against CCP could land you in jail.
Question is after China blocks WhatsApp, VPNs, Google, Facebook etc. what’s next on the hit list of CCP?
Share this article with friends and family. Let us know your views on the internet censorship by China, is it detrimental to Chinese growth or is it required for Stability of a nation?

 

 

 

Top 5 Popular yet Harmful Apps that shouldn’t be on your phone.

Apps make our lives easy, yet there are harmful apps in play store which are so popular that they have millions of downloads. We were appalled to know that there are harmful apps with so many downloads yet legitimate concerns. Today we bring you the Top 5 Android Apps that you shouldn’t be on your phone.

 

* WhatsApp blocked in China – NY Times
1 NoiseProtocol- Documentation
2 WeChat’s privacy Policy

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