WhatsApp Widely Blocked, China Tightens Censorship Ahead of Conference

WhatsApp Severely Disrupted

Chinese authorities appear to have severely disrupted the WhatsApp messaging app in the latest step to tighten censorship as they prepare for a major Communist Party congress next month.

Users in China have reported widespread disruptions in recent days to the Facebook-owned service, which had previously malfunctioned in the country over the summer.

Experts said the problems began on Sunday, although text messages, voice calls and video calls appeared to be working again on Tuesday, though voice messages and photos were not going through.

The Official Warning

WhatsApp should act to stop the spread of “illegal information” and take proactive measures to intercept information to do with violence and terror, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement in response to questions from Bloomberg News. China has the authority to tell institutions to take these measures, said the agency, without specifying details of content it considered illegal.

“A country’s cyberspace sovereignty should be protected,” it added.

A spokesman for WhatsApp declined to comment.

Other Measures Tightening Up Censorship

Earlier this month, WeChat informed its users in a new privacy policy that it would “retain, preserve or disclose” users’ data to “comply with applicable laws or regulations” – confirming long-held public assumptions about the company’s practices.

Chinese cyberspace regulators said Monday they slapped “maximum” fines on major Chinese tech firms Baidu and Tencent for allowing the publication of pornographic, violent and other sorts of banned material on their social media platforms. The amount of the fines was not disclosed.

Chinese search engine Baidu on Wednesday announced that they are building a system to allow China’s cybercops to spot and fix “online rumors” deemed a threat to stability, allowing police agencies to insert themselves directly into everything from its search results to discussion forums.

 

Source: telegraph.co.uk, techcrunch.com, bloomberg.com

 

 

 

 

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