Instant Messaging Security Crackdown After China Suspects Terrorist Messages

China’s grip on social media coverage just tightened once again after telling South Korea that some foreign services will not be accessible anymore due to them being used to exchange terrorism-related information.

The popular instant messaging services in question are Kakao Talk and Line, two popular mobile messaging services used mainly by small journalists and scholars looking to distribute independent news reports and comment on them. From now until further notice, only established media companies are allowed to release social and political news via secure networks.

China told South Korea that the two services were used to exchange terrorist-related information, stated a South Korean official. China’s government has heightened it’s awareness regarding terrorist-related issues due to a series of deadly attacks blamed on Islamic radicals wanting independence for Xinjiang, in the country’s northwestern quadrant.

China will need plenty of tech support to impede the public’s use of the two messaging services. The messaging services will be looking to improve their security and tighten up their user access as well to deter terrorist-related information from infiltrating their service.

Line and Kakao Talk will undoubtedly be seeking some type of managed service — or at least improving their IT professional services — to gain back the Chinese Government’s approval. Managed services usually provide a company with access to internet security, tech support, and troubleshooting.

Chinese authorities gave no further information about which terrorist groups have been using the messaging services, only that there was information exchanged on the service providers.

This past May, the Chinese government cracked down on instant messaging services nationwide in order to stop what it called an “infiltration of hostile forces.” The government specifically targeted people spreading rumors and information about acts of violence, terrorism, and pornography. The campaign mostly targeted citizen’s accounts on WeChat, a mobile messaging service that has become increasingly popular over the past two years.

Since the crackdown and the now recent announcement of the disuse of the two messaging services, journalists and scholars alike have been seeking accounts on WeChat to express their opinions and spread information.

“Our information management does not allow for any blank space. It would be regulated later or sooner, and it is only a matter of time,” said Hu Yong, professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Pekin University.

The public accounts created on WeChat do not offer much security, and the Chinese government may soon deem this messaging service unfit to use and share information on. “The government needs to block the content which it deems harmful,” Yong said.

China’s government agencies and large state media companies have set up public accounts on the most popular messaging services in order to remove accounts they deem offensive.

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