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WhatsApp faces block in China

WhatsApp is not responsible for the blockage, according to a person familiar with the matter

WhatsApp faces block in China
Reports emerged on Monday evening regarding intermittent outages on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp users in China are facing problems with the messaging service as photos, videos and voice messages appears to be blocked.

The partial block has been reported as a censorship crackdown by the Chinese government, according to Bloomberg. Reports emerged on Monday evening regarding intermittent outages, and by Tuesday users tweeted that their voice messages were not being delivered.

This is not a rare occurrence, many popular websites have been blocked in China, including WhatsApp owner Facebook. Other websites that have faced blocks are Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Play, Wikipedia, YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, Bloomberg and more.  

WhatsApp messages are encrypted meaning the Chinese government are unable to monitor the communication. However WeChat, a messaging app run by China's Tencent Holdings Ltd., is unencrypted and asks users to input their real names, allowing authorities to monitor freely.

"By blocking WhatsApp, the authorities have shut down one of the few remaining free and encrypted messaging apps but, more importantly, they have also limited the ability for Chinese to have private conversations with their peers," a Chinese censorship researcher known only by the pseudonym Charlie Smith, said in an e-mail to the Guardian.

"While the internet freedom community continues to develop unique and innovative circumvention tools we are doing very little to fight the climate of fear that Xi Jinping has manufactured in China," he added.

As part of the crackdown, China also plans to block unauthorised virtual private networks starting in February 2018.

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