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.
Apple has interests in China, with Chinese manufacturers being their only real production facilities. Facebook does not and China has no incentive to accommodate them. I’m not saying Apple didn’t cave, but your logic is faulty assuming that they did just because China hasn’t blocked them yet. If Apple did, or does, give China a back door I’ve no doubt we’ll find out about it sooner rather than later. I don’t think they’d be stupid enough to be this publicly in favor of user privacy only to get caught doing a deal with China but, hey, I’m a network administrator not a businessman so what do I know?