China’s Messenger App WeChat Blocked by Russia

Tencent the internet giant based in China announced on Saturday that WeChat its messaging app was blocked in Russia. The company added that it had been in touch with local authorities trying to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

WeChat, known in China as Weixin, is the most popular messaging app in the world with over 889 million users worldwide as of the beginning of 2017.

Along with messaging, the app offers ride-hailing, payment and other types of services and the company has ambitions of spreading their app beyond the borders of China.

It is not clear how many WeChat users there are in Russia. An official with Tencent said the company was being blocked in Russia and was very sorry.

The same official added that regulations in Russia say that providers of online service must register with government officials but WeChat does not have an understanding that is equal of the current regulations.

A spokesperson for Roskomnadzor the telecoms watchdog in Russia said the China-based messaging service had not provided contact information for registering information of distribution organizations.

On Friday, the spokesperson for the watchdog said letters were being sent to Google Play and iTunes to block WeChat and will wait for a reaction. If nothing follows, access to this messenger app would become limited through the different telecom providers.

Earlier this week, the telecoms watchdog placed Line and Blackberry Messenger on a list of services that are banned for similar reasons, reported a state run news agency in Russia.

A law that was passed in 2014 makes it a requirement for foreign messaging services, social network sites and search engines to store all personal data of users in Russia within the country.

Sites breaching that law are put on a blacklist and providers of internet services must block access to them.

The law created much criticism from different internet companies but since September of 2015 has been in place, with LinkedIn the professional networking site blocked after it had broken the law.

China has very strict regulations related to Internet as well.

Communist authorities are censoring online content deemed politically sensitive and block some websites from the west and internet services from web giants that included Twitter, Google and Facebook, with a control network that has been given the nickname Great Firewall of China.

Tencent is the most valuable company in China since September of 2016, beating China Mobile the telecom behemoth that is state owned and close to half of the valuation of Apple.