Users in China have reported that the popular WhatsApp messaging service is now completely unavailable in their home country.
Chinese authorities initially started by disrupting the application, causing problems with users sending multimedia content between each other. The issue had been ongoing for several days, with experts saying it started on Sunday. Users of the service had already been encountering issues this summer, after it began to malfunction. Text messaging functionality was still preserved, however it now seems that this has been interrupted too.
The culprit of all this seems to be end-to-end encryption, which WhatsApp implemented last year after outcries for better piracy. The Chinese government isn’t really a fan of these measures and has decided to block the application, likely in the run up to congress. President Xi Jinping is expected to be given a second five-year term as the party’s general secretary on October 18th. This means that Chinese authorities will be doing everything it can to get rid of foreign services so they can monitor communications and search for potential dissidents.
Many Chinese dissidents have moved away from the country’s most widely used messaging app WeChat for this exact reason, knowing that the application is state monitored. Earlier this month, WeChat informed users that it would “retain, preserve or disclose” users’ data to “comply with applicable laws or regulations”. WeChat is available worldwide from the Google Play Store and anybody can download it but, after recent revelations… we wouldn’t advise it.