China’s Net fil­ters dis­rupt What­sApp

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

SHANG­HAI — The last of Facebook’s ma­jor prod­ucts that still worked in China was dis­rupted Tues­day by the gov­ern­ment, which is tight­en­ing its con­trols over the In­ter­net.

What­sApp, a mes­sag­ing app used across the globe, was partly dis­rupted by Chi­nese fil­ters, leav­ing many un­able to send videos and photos and some also un­able to send text-based mes­sages.

The dis­rup­tion of What­sApp was the lat­est in a line of big dig­i­tal ser­vices run­ning up against China’s “Great Fire­wall,” the coun­try’s sys­tem of In­ter­net fil­ters and con­trols. In re­cent weeks, the gov­ern­ment has ap­peared to in­crease its grip, an on­line crack­down fed by po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive news, im­por­tant up­com­ing events, and a new cy­ber­se­cu­rity law that went into ef­fect last month.

Sites host­ing pop­u­lar for­eign tele­vi­sion shows have had videos taken down, and tools used to skirt the cen­sors have faced more fre­quent dis­rup­tions. In an ar­ti­cle, the mouth­piece of the coun­try’s Com­mu­nist Party scolded the Chi­nese In­ter­net com­pany Ten­cent over a pop­u­lar mo­bile video game, call­ing it too ad­dic­tive.

What­sApp, which had gen­er­ally avoided ma­jor dis­rup­tions in China de­spite the full block of Facebook and Instagram, ap­pears to have become a vic­tim of those cir­cum­stances.

The blocks against What­sApp orig­i­nated with the gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion who de­clined to be named be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to speak on the record about the dis­rup­tion. Se­cu­rity ex­perts also ver­i­fied that the par­tial dis­rup­tion in What­sApp started with China’s In­ter­net fil­ters.

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