Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Sep 2017 18:51 UTC
Internet & Networking

China has largely blocked the WhatsApp messaging app, the latest move by Beijing to step up surveillance ahead of a big Communist Party gathering next month.

The disabling in mainland China of the Facebook-owned app is a setback for the social media giant, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been pushing to re-enter the Chinese market, and has been studying the Chinese language intensively. WhatsApp was the last of Facebook products to still be available in mainland China; the company's main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram image-sharing app is also unavailable.

WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, which the Chinese government (and western governments) don't like. Either WhatsApp would give China a backdoor, or China would block WhatsApp. This seems to indicate WhatsApp stuck to its encryption.

Let's see what happens to the other big western messaging service with end-to-end encryption still available in China: iMessage. We can safely assume that if iMessage isn't blocked soon, Apple caved, and gave China its backdoor.

Permalink for comment 649260
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Comment by sklofur
by sklofur on Mon 25th Sep 2017 21:39 UTC
Member since:

We can safely assume that if iMessage isn't blocked soon, Apple caved, and gave China its backdoor.

I don’t think Apple would do this for the same reason as why they refused to cook up a special iOS version for the police in California. If you weaponise a version of iOS, it can’t just disappear: it will float around forever.

Let’s say Apple was going to put a backdoor in iMessage: it would be publicity suicide to add it to all iOS devices. They might be able to survive with limiting it to chinese devices (albeit not a good look still). In this case, there’d be two problems. People could get around surveillance by bringing a foreign iOS device into china, and you wouldn’t be able to decrypt messages coming in from outside the country.

Personally, I don’t think Apple would ever introduce a backdoor into iMessage given its privacy rhetoric. I think it would rather have iMessage blocked or maybe even threaten to pull out of China (something the Chinese government would not want to happen).

Reply Score: 1