What you need to know
- Encrypted messaging app Signal appears to have been blocked in mainland China.
- The app is no longer working in the country without a VPN.
- It is unclear if the ban on Signal will be reversed in the future.
Signal, which is one of the best Android messaging apps, appears to have been banned in China. As reported by TechCrunch, the app is no longer working in the country without a VPN. According to censorship-tracking website Greatfire.org, the official website of the app has also been banned in mainland China.
When asked if the app was banned in the country, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "China's internet is open, and the Chinese government manages internet-related affairs in accordance with the law."
The ban doesn't come as a surprise, however, since Signal was one of the last few apps in China to offer encrypted messaging. It also comes just a month after Chinese authorities blocked access to audio-only social networking app Clubhouse to prevent people in the country from using it to discuss controversial topics such as the treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Similar to Clubhouse, Signal caught the attention of local authorities only after it hit a substantial user base in the country. As per app analytics firm Sensor Tower, Signal has been installed over 510,000 times in China and recently surpassed 100 million downloads across Google Play and Apple's App Store worldwide. The most popular messaging app in China is Tencent's WeChat. WhatsApp and Telegram, which are among the most popular messaging apps, are also banned in the country.