WhatsApp Video and Photo Messages Reportedly Blocked in China

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China has reportedly started blocking some features of the WhatsApp messaging service, as authorities continue to tighten controls over the country's internet.

WhatsApp users began reporting problems with sharing content on the chat platform yesterday, with many unable to send video and pictures. Despite initial fears of a communications-wide ban of the Facebook-owned service, text-based messages within the app appear to be unaffected.

WhatsApp's reach in China is small compared to homegrown chat service WeChat, which boasts 900 million users but is routinely subjected to state monitoring and censorship. However, Chinese users concerned about privacy have increasingly turned to the encrypted WhatsApp platform to communicate with friends and relatives as well as businesses abroad.

Facebook and Instagram have remained blocked by China's Great Firewall since 2009 and 2014, respectively. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country's human rights lawyers, while several domestic VPNs - which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad - were recently shut down after authorities said they were unauthorized to run.

China appears to be clamping down on potential sources of politically sensitive news as it prepares for a major leadership reshuffle in Beijing. The event happens every five years and often leads to a tightening of online controls to project an air of stability in the country. The death of jailed Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo last week also spurred censors into action, with commemorations on WeChat reportedly blocked by authorities.

(Via The New York Times.)

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Article Link: WhatsApp Video and Photo Messages Reportedly Blocked in China
 

Abazigal

macrumors G5
Jul 18, 2011
12,666
10,663
Singapore
Is it only now? My friends went to China last year and had a lot of issues with whatsapp not working as well. iMessage worked but took a long time to send (I presume there was a lot of filtering going on in the background).
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,662
4,220
Need to come up with a way of making it impossible to block an app without shutting down the entire internet...

What will China do once satellite internet is readily available? Shoot down satellites?
 
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justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,499
5,927
I'm a rolling stone.
Need to come up with a way of making it impossible to block an app without shutting down the entire internet...

What will China do once satellite internet is readily available? Shoot down satellites?
I guess blocking the sale of Satellite dishes/antennas/aerials will do the trick.

Example, satellite TV is not allowed in Singapore so they ban Sat. receivers and dishes.
This doesn't mean you can't really get them, people hide dishes in giant flower pots and smuggle dishes
into Singapore.
 
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DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
633
1,369
Indianapolis, IN
Need to come up with a way of making it impossible to block an app without shutting down the entire internet...

What will China do once satellite internet is readily available? Shoot down satellites?
Make possession of the hardware (or accessing the services) required to use the satellite Internet illegal
 

DaveTheRave

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2003
599
171
Signal got around this problem in Egypt by somehow masking their service traffic so that it looked like Google or Amazon. Which meant that you'd have to block the real Google or Amazon, etc and risk pissing off lots of people and bring down most of the internet. Maybe WhatsApp can do something similar - mask the traffic as Wechat or some other very popular Chinese site that the govt wouldn't want to block.
 

MacBH928

macrumors 68040
May 17, 2008
3,927
1,421
Seriously, who monitors the communications of 900M people? How many people do you hire to monitor that many people?

Second thing, I really doubt WhatsApp is encrypted. Facebook paid $20B for it, and its free. It doesn't make sense.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,828
14,453
Central U.S.
I guess blocking the sale of Satellite dishes/antennas/aerials will do the trick.

Example, satellite TV is not allowed in Singapore so they ban Sat. receivers and dishes.
This doesn't mean you can't really get them, people hide dishes in giant flower pots and smuggle dishes
into Singapore.
I think more mesh networks will eventually come online as wireless technology continues to improve. Site-to-site encrypted WiFi that tunnels past the borders and gets information in through new avenues. I also think that at some point in the future they'll be able to put some really powerful wireless systems on satellites that won't require a big antenna receiver or anything. Maybe something like p-cell could be adapted for that. There will always be ways. It's just unfortunate that countries have to be like this.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,499
5,927
I'm a rolling stone.
Seriously, who monitors the communications of 900M people? How many people do you hire to monitor that many people?

Second thing, I really doubt WhatsApp is encrypted. Facebook paid $20B for it, and its free. It doesn't make sense.
I don't think there are 900 million people using the internet in China, keep in mind that there is still a lot of poverty.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,662
4,220
I guess blocking the sale of Satellite dishes/antennas/aerials will do the trick.

Example, satellite TV is not allowed in Singapore so they ban Sat. receivers and dishes.
This doesn't mean you can't really get them, people hide dishes in giant flower pots and smuggle dishes
into Singapore.
Make possession of the hardware (or accessing the services) required to use the satellite Internet illegal
You're both talking like the hardware is going to be easily detectable. I expect it'll satellite internet antennas to be indistinguishable from a GPS or Cellular antenna by the time most people start using it.
[doublepost=1500564381][/doublepost]
Yes, probably.
I'd be quite surprised if China chose to do that (shoot down satellites)... I can easily see that escalating to a third World War.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
10,499
5,927
I'm a rolling stone.
You're both talking like the hardware is going to be easily detectable. I expect it'll satellite internet antennas to be indistinguishable from a GPS or Cellular antenna by the time most people start using it.
[doublepost=1500564381][/doublepost]

I'd be quite surprised if China chose to do that (shoot down satellites)... I can easily see that escalating to a third World War.
You are most likely right, Some of the dishes in use now (Sat. Internet) are not that big, just found one which is less than a foot squared.

 

DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
633
1,369
Indianapolis, IN
You're both talking like the hardware is going to be easily detectable. I expect it'll satellite internet antennas to be indistinguishable from a GPS or Cellular antenna by the time most people start using it.
I don't necessarily think it will be easy to detect, but I think China will make the penalty for possession so high that many people will be afraid to own it. They don't have stellar human rights record.
 
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