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China tightens grip on instant messaging services

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm •  Published: August 7, 2014
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BEIJING (AP) — China's government tightened control over popular instant messaging services Thursday after telling South Korea that access to some foreign services was blocked because they were used to exchange terrorism-related information.

The government announced that only established media companies will be allowed to release political and social news. That would curtail the growing use of instant messaging services by journalists and scholars to distribute independent news reports and commentary.

The ruling Communist Party has repeatedly tightened controls over microblogs and other social media that give Chinese a rare platform to express themselves to a large audience in a country where all traditional media are state-controlled.

China informed South Korea it has blocked access to two mobile messaging services, Kakao Talk and Line, which it said were used to exchange terrorism-related information, according to a South Korean official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

China's government is on edge about security following a series of deadly attacks that authorities blame on Islamic radicals seeking independence for the country's northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Beijing says it has confirmed terrorism-related information circulated through Kakao Talk and Line, the South Korean official said. It was not clear how Beijing had access to messages between users of the two services, which are private and seen only by the participants.

Chinese authorities gave no information about which terrorists might use the message services, the official said. He declined to give more details.

In May, the government launched a one-month crackdown on instant messaging services to stop what it called the "infiltration of hostile forces." Authorities said it targeted people spreading rumors and information about violence, terrorism or pornography.

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