Tencent’s WeChat blocked by Russian authorities

Russian law requires foreign messaging services, search engines and social networks to store the personal data of Russian users inside the country

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 11:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 May, 2017, 11:57am

Shares in Tencent, the Chinese internet giant, shrugged off an announcement on Monday that its flagship messaging app WeChat was being blocked by Russia. The stock rose 0.3 per cent to at HK$244.4 in mid-morning trade.

Xinhua quoted a spokesman for Russia’s telecommunications watchdog as saying WeChat could be unblocked when the necessary contact information from Tencent is received and approved by the Russian authorities.

Russian law requires foreign messaging services, search engines and social networks to store the personal data of Russian users inside Russia.

Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor listed WeChat on the register of prohibited websites, according to information posted on the regulator’s website on Friday.

Russian officials told Xinhua that WeChat “did not provide the contact information necessary for registration with authorities”.

In response to the blocking, Tencent said on Saturday it was “deeply sorry” the action had been taken, adding it was in touch with the authorities to try to resolve the issue.

Access to WeChat was restricted on the basis of Article 15.4 of the law on information, information technologies and information security, according to Roskomnadzor, officially known as the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, introduced in 2014.

Sites that breach the law are added to a blacklist and internet providers are obliged to block access. The law prompted criticism from internet companies, but came into force in late 2015.

business-article-page