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Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp.

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Whatsapp messaging platform
Image: IANS

San Francisco, Sep 26 (IANS) Instant messaging service WhatsApp has been largely blocked in China, the media reported.

The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), a global observation network for detecting censorship, surveillance and traffic manipulation, suggested on Monday night that Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp on September 23, reports CNN.

Public reports on Twitter indicated that WhatsApp, which is owned by the US-based social media giant Facebook, became inaccessible for some people on September 19.

Over the last few months, there were a number of WhatsApp disruptions in China.

However, WhatsApp has not made an official announcement on the development.

China has already blocked access to a number of internet companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.

Some people access these services through virtual private networks (VPN), or with tools that disguise internet traffic to circumvent censorship. But the Chinese government has launched a crack down on VPNs this year.

According to Timothy Heath, senior international defence research analyst at the RAND Corporation, the Chinese government does not like that WhatsApp uses strong encryption.

“The government wants to monitor internet communications, and therefore it’s trying to steer its people to use technology that can be accessed and monitored by the government,” Heath told CNN.

Earlier this month, WeChat, a popular chat service in China, notified users of its policies to comply with government requests for information. (ians)

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Tech Giant Google Decides to Invest $1 Billion in Housing Across Bay Area

Google last week announced a $6 million grant to support 4-H, the largest youth development organisation in the US

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FILE - A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

After announcing a fresh investment of $600 million in expanding its data centre in Oklahoma, Google has now decided to invest $1 billion for 20,000 homes in the Bay Area in San Francisco.

“Today we’re announcing an additional $1 billion investment in housing across the Bay Area. Over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing,” Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog-post on Tuesday.

The project is aimed at supporting the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families.

“We’ll establish a $250 million investment fund so that we can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market,” Pichai said.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

In addition to the increased supply of affordable housing, the search engine giant has also announced to give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement.

“This builds on the $18 million in grants we’ve given to help address homelessness over the last five years, including $3 million we gave to the newly opened SF Navigation Center and $1.5 million to affordable housing for low income veterans and households in Mountain View,” Pichai added.

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Earlier this week, as part of its plan to invest $13 billion in building new data centres and offices in over a dozen states in the US this year, the company invested $600 million in Pryor, Oklahoma.

To boost computer science education in the US, Google last week announced a $6 million grant to support 4-H, the largest youth development organisation in the US. (IANS)