May 10, 2017 01:41 PM EDT
Roskomnadzor, the Internet regulator in Russia, released on Friday, May 5, a list of banned online services. Included in the list is WeChat, a popular chat app from China. The Asian giant just had a taste of being banned in other countries which Beijing authorities have been doing to other major technology companies such as Google and Facebook.
The reason behind the ban is that WeChat, owned by Tencent, allegedly did not turn over to Russian authorities the data. Tencent said that as an organization engaged in the distribution of online information, it was required to turn over data when requested by Russian officials. Quartz reports that the possible real reason behind the ban is a law passed in 2014 that mandates all foreign Internet companies to store the data of Russian users on servers in the country and not overseas.
Because Google and Facebook are global giants, these companies, even if it were covered by Roskomnadzor’s regulations, could still operate normally in the socialist European nation even if these companies do not comply with the agency’s laws. However, smaller portals such as LinkedIn was no match to the agency which banned the website when it told the regulatory agency it would not comply.
WeChat, or Weixin in China, has 889 million users around the world, making the app the most popular messaging service in the world. Vadim Ampelonsky, from the regulator, disclosed that it sent letters to Google Play and iTunes to block the app in Russia. Roskomnadzor had also blocked in Russia BlackBerry Messenger and Line, CTV News reported.
CNN notes that China is the model of Russia when it comes to controlling the country’s Internet service providers. In 2016, Russia invited representatives from China’s Great Firewall to talk about Internet safety in Moscow at a forum. WeChat just got a dose of its own medicine in Russia because, in China, the firm has blocked and censored chats about sensitive topics like the 1989 Tiananmen Square reports.
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