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May 8, 2017

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WeChat service blocked in Russia

WECHAT, the world’s most popular messaging service, has been blocked in Russia, Chinese Internet giant Tencent said on Saturday. It said it was in touch with authorities to resolve the issue.

WeChat, known as Weixin in China, had 889 million global users by the end of last year.

As well as messaging, it also offers payment, ride-hailing and other services, and Ten cent has ambitions to spread the app beyond China. It is unclear how many users WeChat has in Russia.

“We’re experiencing a block and we’re deeply sorry,” a Tencent official said on a company microblog. “Russian regulations say online service providers have to register with the government but WeChat doesn’t have the same understanding (of the rules).”

A spokesman for Russia’s telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor said the messaging service “did not provide its contact information for the register of information distribution organizations.”

“We are sending letters to iTunes and Google Play to block the app. We await a reaction. If it does not follow, access to the messenger will be limited through telecom providers,” he told RIA Novosti on Friday.

Earlier last week, Roskomnadzor placed Blackberry Messenger and Line on its list of banned services for the same reasons, RIA reported.

A law passed in 2014 requires foreign messaging services, search engines and social networking sites to store the personal data of Russian users inside Russia. Sites that breach the law are added to a blacklist and Internet providers are obliged to block access.

Tencent became China’s most valuable firm in September, beating state-owned China Mobile and reaching almost half of Apple’s valuation.



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