WhatsApp, one of the major instant messaging service, has been widely blocked in mainland China by the country’s government. Over the past few weeks, the people of China have been facing widespread disruptions in the internet services leaving them with the inability to send pictures and videos. With the recent ban imposed by the government, text messages are also blocked for the people. WhatsApp has been previously blocked in China in the month of July, but the ban was later lifted by the government after few weeks. According to the New York Times, many users lost access beginning from Sunday night and mostly the day later. On being asked about the same by WhatsApp, they declined to comment on the blockage.
According to sources, China may have recently upgraded its firewall to detect and block protocols like NoiseSocket Protocol that WhatsApp uses to send texts, in addition to already blocking HTTPS/TLS that WhatsApp uses to send photos and videos. The move is a setback for Facebook, as its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been trying very hard to regain access to the Chinese Market, as it was banned in 2009 and now WhatsApp has been banned by the government which is also owned by Facebook.
The shutdown of WhatsApp has resulted in a massive negligence in the Chinese Social Media. The Residents of mainland China can still use services like WhatsApp if they first connect to virtual private networks that provide them with communications channels to servers outside the Chinese mainland. The government has also been trying to crack Virtual Private Networks in the recent months to implement the ban properly.
Reason for Whatsapp Ban in China
It is being anticipated that the ban is due to the Communist Party’s Congress to be held in Beijing next month. WhatsApp may have been targeted because of its strong encryption features lacked by services like Skype and Apple’s FaceTime that are allowed to operate in China. It is strongly believed that the block will be lifted very soon as if it’s not lifted, it could disrupt businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate with the customers.