Signal messaging app stops working for many users in China

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China has been known to crack down on apps that don’t let the government monitor their content. And the Signal encrypted messaging app down for many users across the country is apparently another case.

Earlier this morning, many people based in China reported that Signal was not working for them unless they were using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service.

As TechCrunch noted, the app’s website has been banned in the country since yesterday, while the app is still available on the App Store. So, as of now, there is no government order for Apple to remove the app.

According to app analytics company SensorTower, the iOS version of Signal has been downloaded more than 510,000 times in China to date. Globally, the app has passed 100 million downloads from the App Store and Play Store.

Although Google Play is not officially available in China, alternative Android app stores do not list Signal due to the country’s censorship law.

In January, when WhatsApp released an update to its privacy policy, a ton of users started migrating to Signal and Telegram, including those in China. However, there is no way to monitor messages on Signal due to end-to-end encryption protection for chats.

We don’t know at this time if this ban is permanent, but because of the messaging app privacy-oriented nature, I will not be surprised if this is the case.

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Published March 16, 2021 – 06:50 UTC


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