Encrypted messaging app Signal appeared to be inactive in China without the use of a virtual private network (VPN), this is according to users in the country.
In recent years, China’s cyber authorities have become increasingly strict, widening the scope of apps, media outlets and social media sites banned in the country.
As of Tuesday morning, Signal’s website was inaccessible in China but the app was still available on Apple’s China app store and the app and website appeared to be working normally in Hong Kong.
The app was already unavailable on third-party Android stores in China, where Google services are largely blocked.
On several occasions the app had previously stopped working in China without VPN with no reason given, only for usage to resume.
Signal saw an increase in downloads worldwide after January 6 when WhatsApp updated its privacy terms, reserving the right to share user data, including location and phone number, with its parent Facebook Inc and units such as Instagram and Messenger.
According to data company Sensor Tower, Signal had been downloaded close to 510,000 times on iOS in China, and has been downloaded 100 million times worldwide on the App Store and Google Play combined.
Tencent’s all-in-one mobile app WeChat is China’s dominant messaging app, with its payment functions and other services, boasts more than a billion users globally.