Censorship is common in several countries all over the world, but China specifically is notoriously known for its censorship policies.
China’s Great Firewall , as it is colloquially termed, has prevented access to popular websites and services to its citizens. The Great Firewall is now being reported to have blocked a popular social networking site, WhatsApp.
According to the New York Times, China has largely blocked WhatsApp on the mainland which apparently was a surveillance move ahead of a Communist Party gathering.
Apparently China is using specialized software to interfere with WhatsApp text messages. “This is not the typical technical method in which Chinese government censors something,” Nadim Kobeissi, a cryptographer was quoted as saying. Nadim said that they had detected disruptions of WhatsApp in China on Wednesday and by yesterday, the blocking efforts were comprehensive.
This censorship of WhatsApp is quite interesting due to the fact that the end-to-end encryption employed by the company is designed in such a way even Facebook cannot snoop on the data. According to Mr Kobeissi, China might have figured out how to target this heavily encrypted way of sending data.
This move might mean that citizens in China will have to use VPNs to access WhatsApp services, but the country had a VPN crackdown recently, so this will be even harder for WhatsApp users.
WhatsApp now joins a list of popular websites and services that have been blocked in mainland China. This includes the likes of Google, Google Services (Maps, Docs, APIs, Plus), Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Yahoo Japan, Pinterest, Periscope, Tumblr, BBC and many more.