CHINA BLOCKS ENCRYPTED MESSAGING APP SIGNAL
Encrypted messaging app Signal appears to have been blocked in mainland China, the latest foreign social media service to cease working in a country where the government tightly controls the flow of information, Zen Soo reported for the Associated Press (AP).
As of Tuesday, March 16, users of the app within China had to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) that allows them to circumvent China’s so-called Great Firewall, a censorship system that blocks websites, services and apps deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government.
Signal uses end-to-end encryption for its messaging and calling services, which prevents any third-party from viewing conversation content or listening in on calls.
The move to silence Signal, one of the few remaining messaging apps in China that allowed users to engage in encrypted messaging, comes as China expands controls to shape public opinion and at times limit private discourse.
Users in China said Tuesday that they could not get the app to connect without a VPN service. Messages failed to send and calls did not go through.
In China, services like Facebook, Google and Twitter have been blocked for years.
Most recently, popular social-audio platform Clubhouse was also shut down in the country, shortly after Chinese users on the app started taking part in real-time audio discussions deemed sensitive by authorities, such as China’s mass detentions of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a daily news briefing Tuesday that he was “not aware of the situation” around Signal being banned in China. “What I can tell you is that as a principle, China’s internet is open, and the Chinese government manages internet-related affairs according to law and regulations,” Zhao said.