Signal — the Encrypted Messaging App and Jack Ma’s Browser Blocked in China

Jack Ma CEO of Alibaba Group
Jack Ma CEO of Alibaba Group

Signal, an encrypted-messaging app that rose to fame in January, blocked in China. The Chinese government also banned an internet browser made by the country’s richest man Jack Ma. 

In the last few days, users of Signal in China said on other social media platforms that they couldn’t use signal as of Monday evening. Users reported that they couldn’t even send messages on the app, said a report by the Washington Post.

Nevertheless, some other users are still accessing the encrypted-messaging app via Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide locations. According to a CNBC report, the app is still available on Apple’s China App Store for download. 

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“Signal has been walled,” wrote users on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, says a report by the Post. 

Signal provides users with end-to-end encryption, meaning that no third parties including the government and authorities to spy on messages. Furthermore, the free messaging app doesn’t share any data on its users to third parties or platforms.  

The app rose to fame in January following WhatsApp’s update to its terms and conditions. Users panicked that WhatsApp will no longer be end-to-end encrypted, consequently leading to a massive shift to the Signal app as an alternative.

Additionally, a tweet by Elon Musk CEO of Tesla saying “use Signal” resulted in big publicity for the app.

Alibaba UC Browser deleted from app stores with Signal

Jack Ma’s Alibaba — the Chinese Amazon website is also struggling with Beijing’s policies. For instance, the E-commerce group’s browser was deleted from Chinese app stores on Tuesday.

According to a report by the Financial Times, Chinese authorities alleged Alibaba’s UC Browser for sharing misleading ads. Authorities argued that ads directed patients to private hospitals instead of public ones.

Chinese tech giants including Xiaomi, Huawei, and Tencent manage China’s app stores. The tech giants pulled or blocked the browser says the same report by the Financial Times. Problems with Jack Ma didn’t start today. Last year, Chinese watchdogs blocked a $37 billion initial public offering of Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate. 

In conclusion, China’s restriction on social media platforms and apps seems to be getting harsher. On February 8, the Chinese authorities blocked Clubhouse in the country. The decision came after users flooded the app to discuss political topics like Xinjiang’s Uighur detention camps. 

Clubhouse doesn’t record users conversations. In return, messages are untraceable for the governments and authorities, and users can access the app by invitation only.