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Chinese Government Blocks Access to Signal Encrypted Messaging App

Chinese Government Blocks Access to Signal Encrypted Messaging App

The Chinese government continues to crack down on encrypted messaging apps, as TechCrunch reports the government appears to have blocked access to the Signal app. China on Monday blocked access to the website, and the app is now unavailable inside the country.

The move follows similar blocks on other popular end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Telegram.

TechCrunch reports.

Chinese users of the instant messenger Signal knew that the good times wouldn’t last long. The app, which is used for encrypted conversations, is unavailable in mainland China as of the morning of March 16, a test by TechCrunch shows. The website of the app has been banned in mainland China since March 15, according to censorship tracking website Greatfire.org.

Signal could not be immediately reached for comment.

The encrypted chat app was one of the few Western social networks that remained accessible in China without the use of a virtual private network.

So far, the Chinese government hasn’t asked Apple to remove any of the secure messaging apps from the App Store.

Signal is still available for download on Apple’s China App Store as of March 16, an indication that Apple hasn’t received a government order to remove the app, which is gradually gaining ground among China’s tech-savvy, privacy-conscious users.

Like Signal, both Telegram and WhatsApp are still present on the China App Store, though access appears to require the use of a Virtual Private Network.

True VPN apps and services are for intents and purposes illegal in China. While VPN companies can get a license to operate inside the country, it is widely believed that licensed services are greatly compromised. Apple was required to remove hundreds of VPN apps from the App Store back in 2017.

China has grown exceedingly aggressive in clamping down on the use of apps like Signal and their use in criticizing the government. Apple has long been forced to comply with government laws clamping down on human rights, as it seeks to continue operating in the restrictive country. While the Cupertino firm continues to receive well-justified criticism for bowing to the Chinese government, the company’s dependence on China as a manufacturing base makes it impossible to withdraw from the country.