In an interesting and even more ironic turn of events, China gets to taste its own medicine as Russia blocks the Chinese giant mobile messaging application, “WeChat” for failure to comply with certain Russian federal laws.
What is WeChat?
WeChat, also known as “Weixin” in Chinese, is a giant Chinese social media application that was developed by Tencent Holdings. WeChat has over 900 million users which makes it a worthy competitor to Facebook. WeChat is not only restricted to messaging, the app boasts a wide array of features, such as: voice messaging as well as sending live pictures, stickers, videos and coupons. It also features a digital wallet, called “WeChat Pay” through which users pay their bills and transfer money to other contacts. Another excellent feature is the “WeChat Out“, which enables WeChatters to make calls to mobiles and landlines as well.
China is widely notorious for its internet censorship and surveillance regimes. The sleeping giant boasts the planet’s most technologically advanced censorship system to establish “internet sovereignty” by blocking tens of thousands of popularly used websites (including: Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Youtube and Instagram) and launching its own regulatory compliant applications, such as: WeChat. On the opposite side of the world, Russia is following in China’s footsteps to practice internet control. For example, many websites including Linkedin are banned in Russia. Russia had previously issued warnings to giant companies, like Facebook, Twitter and Google to face such fate should they not comply with the country’s federal internet regulations to keep personal records of their users in Russia. However, in a bold move, Russia has blocked on May 04, 2017 China’s giant social media app, “WeChat” for failure to provide its contact details for Russia’s register of “organisers of information distribution on the Internet”, according to Vadim Ampelonskiy, spokesman for the Roskomnadzor watchdog.
“We are sending letters to iTunes and Google Play to block the app. We await a reaction. If it does not follow, access to the messenger will be limited through telecom providers,” he added.
When Chinese WeChat users in Russia started complaining that they cannot use the service,a Tencent official said on a company microblog, “We’re experiencing a block and we’re deeply sorry,”
He further went on to add, “Russian regulations say online service providers have to register with the government but WeChat doesn’t have the same understanding (of the rules).”
WeChat is among several social media platforms targeted by Russia in its crackdown on the internet. According to RT, last week Line (one of Japan’s biggest messengers) , Blackberry and IMO messengers were sadly also blocked.