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THE BIZNOB – Global Business & Financial News – A Business Journal – Focus On Business Leaders, Technology – Enterpeneurship – Finance – Economy – Politics & LifestyleTHE BIZNOB – Global Business & Financial News – A Business Journal – Focus On Business Leaders, Technology – Enterpeneurship – Finance – Economy – Politics & Lifestyle

Politics

Politics

Beijing Blocks WhatsApp Access in Mainland China

Chinese users have reported trouble regarding the use of WhatsApp instant messaging tool on Tuesday. Many suspect that Beijing is responsible for the issues that are arising as part of its latest regulations on internet use.

The issues included involved being unable to send or receive photos using the chat app, which is owned by Facebook, without the use of a VPN. Beijing has had previous issues regarding VPNs, and they have made multiple attempts to encourage telecoms to prevent individual access to VPNs. VPNs are used to bypass Beijing’s censorship program by rerouting internet traffic elsewhere, usually to a foreign IP address.

Beijing efforts to tighten internet security is motivated by their intentions to block any websites with information that could be critical of the Communist Party including YouTube, Twitter, and foreign news sites. While the information itself is not necessarily censored, access to the information is blocked preventing the information from being seen in mainland China. In response, many proxy websites that fulfill a similar function rise in order to provide the original site’s services without broadcasting any potential criticism.

The suspicions that Beijing is involved come at the results of a test conducted by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday afternoon. Two users registered with mainland Chinese mobile numbers were unable to send neither videos nor pictures to each other via WhatsApp. One of the users then tried to send both a video and a picture to an overseas number, which resulted in a failed transmission. The overseas user then sent a video and a picture to the mainland Chinese mobile user, and while the message did go through, all the Chinese user could see was a loading thumbnail that failed to fully load and display its message.

However, there were no problems when sending text messages to one another, which included media content as well, and all functions and services provided by WhatsApp were restored upon the use of a VPN. This suggests that there was some involvement that restricted messaging, and that these restrictions applied only to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is one of the few messaging services available in mainland China that is foreign based. While not as popular as the local app WeChat, which acts as a more readily accessible and offers less noticeably regulated services, WhatsApp still fulfills a competitive niche thanks to its end-to-end encryption.

WeChat, which is owned by the dominant tech company Tencent, has been found to be censoring messages deemed sensitive by Beijing without notifying its users. While this does occur, the app is still popular because it does not require a VPN to function properly.

Users began noticing troubles with WhatsApp early in the morning on Tuesday, but found that other apps on their mobile devices, including WeChat, were functioning without issues. A member of a non-governmental labor welfare group in Shenzen mentioned regular use of WhatsApp for work based communication due to the security and privacy it provides. Instead of switching over to WeChat to communicate with his colleagues, the man refrained from contacting his colleagues at all, as WeChat and text messaging were not viably safe options.

Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook have made any statements regarding Chinese censorship. However, Facebook’s social networking site and its photo-sharing services provided by Instagram are both blocked in China and have been for a long while now. Other foreign based chat and media sharing apps that have been blocked in mainland China include Tokyo-based Line and Berlin-based Telegram.

If businesses wishing to penetrate Chinese markets want to be successful, then they need to take major considerations regarding the government’s regulations on especially foreign based companies. If they fail to do so, then any invest into the Chinese market will come up short as the services provided are at a larger than usual risk of being shut down or restricted.

Featured Image via Pixabay


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