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China blocks Line, Kakao Talk to counter terrorism, S. Korea reports

8 August 2014, 5:23 am EDT By Menchie Mendoza Tech Times
Users of foreign messaging apps in China complain on the apps’ inaccessibility. These would include Kakao Talk and Line which are two of the most popular apps in Asia.  ( Kakao Talk/Facebook )

Since the first day of July, the messaging apps started to have disrupted services which have caught the attention of the ICT, Ministry of Science, and Future Planning in Seoul.

Kakao Talk and Line are just two of the popular apps in Asian markets such as China and India. Kakao Talk is operated by the South Korean based Kakao Corp whereas Line is under a Japanese subsidiary of Naver, South Korea's biggest portal.

The reason behind the issue is now being investigated. China explained that some foreign messaging apps had been blocked, believing that the apps are used as channels for circulating terrorism-related information. These would include planning the attacks or spreading some details on how to make bombs. Apart from the apps, terrorists would also use video websites for their channels.

Lee Jin-Gyu, director of the Internet Policy unit, told reporters that "The ministry will continue negotiations with Chinese authorities so that users' inconveniences be resolved at the earliest possible date." He added that apart from Kakao Talk and Line, other foreign messaging services were also affected such as Vower, TalkBox, and Didi.

China itself has a main messaging app which, interestingly, is spared from suffering disrupted services. Dubbed as Weixin which is the sibling of WeChat, the service still operates normally even though it can also be a channel that can be used by terrorists to exchange information. However, Chinese internet company Tencent works round the clock to clean up messages and save itself from getting into trouble with the Chinese government.

A spokeswoman at Kakao Corp said that service disruptions continued while a spokesman at Naver Corp said he had been notified of the blockage. Both have declined to give further comments.

China is known as one of those countries that places tight control over the Internet. The government occasionally schedules its internet blocks as soon as it notices any signs of dissent or challenges to the Communist Party. It has already blocked access to several websites that include Twitter and YouTube using a blocking system known as the "Great Firewall." The government tightens its restrictions on certain dates which are believed to be sensitive.

KakaoTalk and Line aren't the only affected online services that have a disabled access to Chinese users. Currently, Yahoo's Flickr and Microsoft's OneDrive are inaccessible as well. On the other hand, Viber, which is another popular mobile messenger, seemed to be running normally.

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