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Millions Bypass WhatsApp Bans: CEO Warns of Erosion of Online Freedoms

Tens of millions of people are using workarounds to access WhatsApp in countries where it is banned. China's ban led to Apple blocking Chinese iPhone users from downloading WhatsApp. Android users can still download WhatsApp from unofficial sources.

Despite being prohibited in countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and recently China, users have discovered technical workarounds to continue using the app. While some countries, including Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, restrict certain features of WhatsApp, the platform can still track users through their registered phone numbers. Head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart revealed that even in countries with blocking measures, there are still tens of millions of people connecting to WhatsApp.


China's ban on WhatsApp led to Apple blocking Chinese iPhone users from downloading the app from the AppStore. Cathcart expressed his disappointment with this decision, stating that Apple has put itself in a position to control what users can access. However, Android users can still download WhatsApp from unofficial sources. Cathcart also highlighted the role of virtual private networks (VPNs) and WhatsApp's proxy service in ensuring accessibility to the platform.


In addition to WhatsApp, China has also banned other encrypted messaging apps like Signal and demanded the removal of microblogging app Threads. Cathcart emphasised the importance of Western technology platforms in promoting liberal democratic values globally. However, he acknowledged that the power of these platforms and the ideals of a free and open internet are diminishing.


Cathcart expressed concern about ongoing government efforts, including in the UK, to ban end-to-end encryption and grant authorities access to suspected criminals' messages. He believes that privacy is a fundamental concern for people, even if they may not fully understand the technical aspects of encryption. WhatsApp has been actively communicating the importance of end-to-end encryption and the implications at stake.

 
  • Tens of millions of people are using workarounds to access WhatsApp in countries where it is banned.

  • China's ban led to Apple blocking Chinese iPhone users from downloading WhatsApp.

  • Android users can still download WhatsApp from unofficial sources.


Source: BBC

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