China Bans Whatsapp in Latest Push to Crack Down on Bitcoin
Whatsapp, a popular instant messaging app used by many Bitcoiners in China, is now dead. This move comes in anticipation of the Communist Party gathering in October, and is the latest in a string of crackdowns against technology and free speech — including Bitcoin.
Whatsapp Goes Dark in China
The Chinese government blocked Whatsapp users from sending photos and videos in July. But now the app is totally non-functional inside Chinese borders, The Hacker News reports. Citing a report from Paris-based Symbolic Software, the publication said Chinese users can no longer send simple text messages through the app.
These latest restrictions placed on the Facebook-owned app may cause communication difficulties for Bitcoiners in China, many of which use the app to talk to each other. They also use the app to speak with Bitcoiners in other parts of the world, since most other forms of social media are banned in china, such as Facebook and Twitter.
However, the app — along with any other form of social media — is still accessible in China through a VPN. These privacy tools are widely used throughout China to get around the “Great Firewall.” So, while it may be more difficult to use Whatsapp in China, it still isn’t totally impossible.
Unfortunately, though, as Hacker News reports, China is going after VPNs as well.
Chinese Crackdown on ICOs and Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Since early September, the Chinese government has made heavy-handed threats against the cryptocurrency community. First, the government announced that it would completely ban ICOs completely, and then stated its intentions to heavily regulate cryptocurrency exchanges.
Following these two announcements, the cryptocurrency markets tumbled — the bitcoin price included. Furthermore, several major exchanges in China halted their operations until further notice as a result of the government statements.
As reported by Hacker News, these crackdowns come as the Chinese Communist Party prepares for its National Congress in October, where new political leaders will be chosen. This meeting — which only happens once every 5 years — will also set policy priorities for the next 5 years, which could include Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.
Do you think this ban on Whatsapp will be permanent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via Reuters//Thomas White, Whatsapp