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.

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RE: Double standards?
by StephenBeDoper on Tue 26th Sep 2017 20:48 UTC in reply to "Double standards?"
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I don't get it: is censorship good or bad? When China does it, it's bad. When Spain does it, it's bad. But, when some alt right web site gets kicked off the web then it's suddenly right?

Web hosts and domain registrars are not (last I checked) the same thing as the federal governments of sovereign nations, and don't have the same level of power to censor or suppress speech that nations possess. Web hosts & domain registrars are also private entities (excepting some national/CCTLD registries) and in most jurisdictions, they are perfectly within their legal rights to say "This is our sandbox, we make the rules, and you can either follow them or GTFO." That's why, for example, AOL never ran into any free speech-related legal troubles - despite being infamous for having a ridiculously-draconian TOS.

Don't get me wrong: I have no sympathy at all for alt right (and in fact despise them and everything they stand for) but I still think that there is no good censorship. Or, as the EFF ( puts it:

"Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one — not the government and not private commercial enterprises— should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t."

I completely agree with the principles espoused in that quote - but I don't think they actually apply to this particular situation. In the case of a commercial hosting provider/registrar booting a customer they don't want to associate with, that is NOT "decid[ing] who gets to speak and who doesn't" - at least not any more so then when, say, a mail server administrator sets up filters to block mail from a persistent source of spam.

Speaking of spam, much of the discourse over this issue frankly reminds me of a proto-meme from NANAE (the "Frea Speach" - which was a derisive, deliberate misspelling meant to lampoon spammers who argued that bombarding networks/people with unwanted advertisements was somehow protected by free speech laws.

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