HONG KONG — Encrypted messaging app Signal appears to have been blocked in mainland China, the latest foreignservice, to cease working in a country where the government tightly controls the flow of information.
As of Tuesday, users of thehad to connect to a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent China’s so-called Great Firewall, a censorship system that blocks websites, services, and apps deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government.
The move to silence Signal, one of China’s few remaining messaging appsto shape public opinion and limit private discourse.
Users in China said Tuesday that they could not get the app to connect without a. , and calls did not go through.
Zhao Lijian, a China’s Ministry ofspokesman, said at a daily news briefing Tuesday that he was “unaware of the situation” around Signal being banned in China.
“I can tell you that as a principle, China’s internet is open, and the Chineseinternet-related affairs according to law and regulations,” Zhao said.
Signal usesservices, which prevents any third party from viewing conversation content or listening in on calls.
The app recently had grownusers in China concerned about privacy issues. However, the number of in the country is still tiny compared to the ubiquitous WeChat messaging app. WeChat has over a billion users and is a mainstay of everyday life in China, thanks to its payment services and features.
However, politically sensitive messages and, and authorities have detained users for spreading rumors online. Messages on WeChat are encrypted only between its servers and the users’ devices and, in theory, could be accessed by Tencent, WeChat’s parent company.