China Shuts Down Mobile Users Evading Internet Censorship on the Far West of Xinjiang
The China government is trying a new technique to head off such attempts of mobile users that evade internet censorship in China specifically the far west territory of Xinjiang through software.
Foreign messaging apps' users in China's Xinjiang territory such as WhatsApp had their phone service shut down entirely after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks according to the New York Times. A text message was sent preceding the shutdown. It said that the user's cellphone number will be shut down within the next two hours in accordance with the law. The user can consult the cyberpolice affiliated with the police station within the vicinity as soon as possible for any questions.
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Not only users of the downloaded foreign messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram but also people employing virtual private networks (VPNs) to cloak their locations to get access to banned websites and those who failed to register their account with the proper identification were reported in the police station. According to Quartz, all Chinese residents are required starting on Sept. 1 to link their mobile numbers with their identification.
Homegrown terrorists in Xinjiang are often conflated with separatists from the Muslim Uyghur ethnic groups in the region. Beijing has publicly pledged to wipe them out. In a 56-day police raid in Xinjiang, 28 terrorists under the command of a foreign extremist group were killed.
This incident is not the first time. The center of censorship action is Xinjiang, and the government has cracked down on messaging apps. The internet was shut down in 2009 for nearly six months.
This proves that the Chinese government is reaching new frontiers in crackdowns on VPNs and messaging services and fearing that these tools are used to plan attacks or contact accomplices overseas. Software that circumvents the Great Firewall is the Chinese government's long focused goal. No announcement is given yet on until when is the service shutdown's extended period in the region.