nsnbc : The People’s Republic of China has increasingly been tightening the noose on Internet companies since July 2016. Now authorities have begun disrupting WhatsApp. Privacy and freedom of speech are not really compatible with the visions of the ruling elite of the Chinese Corporatist Party.
On Tuesday, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging service faced large disruptions in the self-proclaimed workers’ and peasants’ paradise that affected users intermittently across the country and sent a signal about what’s in store for users of the communication service.
Nadim Kobeissi, a cryptographer at the Paris-based online security firm Symbolic Software told reporters the disruptions are affecting users intermittently across China, intensifying a blocking effort that began around July but has gotten more sophisticated in ensuing months.
For months now, China is tightening the screws on WhatsApp, honing and employing cutting-edge surveillance technology to disrupt the messaging service as part of a longer-term crackdown on its online spheres.
WhatsTheProblem with WhatsApp? The communist party-snoopers turned corporatist are not so happy about online privacy for common workers and peasants – privacy should apparently be reserved for the party bosses who act like paradise’ gatekeepers. The truly “worthy ones, comrade Napoleon”.
The latest disruption also marked another setback for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has been making efforts to re-enter and expand in the country and has been studying the Chinese language intensively since the start of this year but has managed to make very little headway.
Now, in all fairness, Zuckerberg and Facebook are not exactly Saints when it comes to freedom of information, freedom of opinion, free speech, etc.. Actually, given nsnbc international’s experience with Facebook one may be tempted to presume that Zuckerberg can Sucker the Beijing bosses enough to strike a deal?
But, back to WhatsApp, the interference this week also marked a step up from July, when local users began experiencing sporadic issues sending images and voice messages. The efforts made by China, to tighten its scrutiny over internet services in the country, come in the run-up to the 19th Communist Party congress next month. So far, China has slapped fines on companies for failing to screen content, has shuttered celebrity gossip sites, and has punished chat group administrators on Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat for hosting sensitive content.
Kobeissi has said that last week, WhatsApp users in China began noticing sporadic texting outages as government cybercops played a cat-and-mouse game with the messaging platform. He said that the country’s Great Firewall surveillance regime is configured to censor traffic based on connections to servers and addresses. However, the Facebook service rotates among multiple server addresses so it takes time for censors to catch up.
Kobeissi, who focuses on messaging encryption has said, “The rotating server addresses keep the network efficient, but it also has an unintended side effect, which is it circumvents censorship of the Chinese Firewall. It might have taken a while for the Great Firewall to adapt, but it’s catching up.” Facebook and WhatsApp have not made any official comments on the disruption. Even the Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation’s internet regulator has not made any official comments.
Last year, WhatsApp introduced full end-to-end encryption, which means that only senders and recipients can see or hear the content sent through WhatsApp, curtailing authorities’ ability to conduct widespread surveillance. In his report, Kobeissi said that he suspects censors were able to block WhatsApp images and voice messages based on secure HTTPS protocol – however, it took time to upgrade their tools to screen text messages based on “Noise” protocol – a framework that allows WhatsApp to work more efficiently.
In some parts of the country, however, until Tuesday morning, many users were still able to send messages successfully. WhatsApp was the last of Facebook products to still be available in mainland China, even though the company’s main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009, along with its Instagram image-sharing app that also remains unavailable.
F/AK – nsnbc 27.09.2017