If you’re not using the secure messaging app Signal, you’re missing out. The app is cross platform, has the design simplicity of Apple’s Messages, the features of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and user privacy baked in like no other messaging app on the planet. In other words, there’s no reason not to be using Signal.
But people in China apparently don’t have that choice anymore. That’s because it looks like China has banned the app in the country, reports CNBC. It’s unknown when exactly the ban was implemented, but as of Tuesday morning Signal users in China are unable to send or receive messages with the app. However, at the time of this writing, the Signal app remains on the Google Play and Apple App Stores in the country, and users in China can get around the ban by using a VPN, which helps them evade the country’s Great Firewall. It’s not a perfect solution, but one that works—for now.
As for the reasons for the likely ban? Signal is widely considered by security and privacy researchers to be the most secure and private messaging app on the planet. And in the wake of WhatsApp’s disastrous messaging about the upcoming weakening of its privacy protections, users flocked to Signal in droves. As a matter of fact, recent data from app market intelligence firm Sensor Tower shows Signal has now crossed the 100 million download mark on Apple’s App Store and Google Play combined. In China, the iOS version of the app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. (Sensor Tower does not track Android downloads in China).
Ironically enough, China’s apparent ban on the app only lends to Signal’s privacy and security street cred. China likely wouldn’t ban a messaging app if there were any way for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to read people’s Signal messages. For those outside the country, this is just another signal we should all be jumping ship to Signal today.
— Zak Doffman (@UKZak) January 14, 2021