WASHINGTON – A mobile app launched last week in China that many there hoped would allow access to long banned Western social media sites abruptly disappeared from Chinese app stores a day after its unveiling.
Tuber, an Andriod app backed by Chinese cyber security software giant Qihoo 360, first appeared to be officially available last Friday. It offered Chinese citizens limited access to websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Google, and it facilitated some 5 million downloads following its debut.
Yet a day later, the Tuber app disappeared from mobile app stores, including one run by Huawei Technologies Co. A search for the app’s website yielded no results when VOA checked Monday. It’s unclear whether the government ordered the takedown of the app.
Experts told VOA that such ventures are sometimes designed to create the illusion of choice to users eager to gain access to the global internet, but these circumvention tools are sometimes deleted if they are deemed by the Chinese government to be too popular with consumers.
Chinese users hailed their newfound ability to visit long banned websites before the app was removed last Saturday.
Several now banned articles introducing Tuber went viral Friday on China’s super app WeChat and seem to have contributed to Tuber’s overnight success.
Sporting a logo similar to that of YouTube, Tuber’s main page offered a feed of YouTube videos, while another tab allowed users go to Western websites banned in China.
A reporter at Chinese state media Global Times tweeted that the move is “good for China’s stability and it’s a great step for China’s opening up.”
Exciting news!! #China launched a new web browser Tuber that can connect to
David Goddard | Getty Images News | Getty Images
LONDON — The top court in the European Union has delivered another blow to governments seeking to keep tabs on citizens through controversial spying techniques.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s highest legal authority, ruled Tuesday that member states cannot collect mass mobile and internet data on citizens.
Forcing internet and phone operators to carry out the “general and indiscriminate transmission or retention of traffic data and location data” is against EU law, the court explained in its ruling.
“However, in situations where a member state is facing a serious threat to national security that proves to be genuine and present or foreseeable, that member state may derogate from the obligation to ensure the confidentiality of data relating to electronic communications,” it continues.
Even in these emergency scenarios, there are rules that must be adhered to.
“Such an interference with fundamental rights must be accompanied by effective safeguards and be reviewed by a court or by an independent administrative authority,” the court said.
The ruling, which has been eagerly anticipated by civil rights campaigners, is in response to several cases brought about by Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net.
The campaign groups argued that surveillance practices in the U.K., France and Belgium go too far and violate fundamental human rights. The groups specifically took issue with the U.K.’s Investigatory Powers Act, a 2015 French decree related to specialized intelligence services, and a Belgian law on collection and retention of communications data that was introduced in 2016.
“Today’s judgment reinforces the rule of law in the EU,” said Caroline Wilson Palow, legal director of Privacy International, in a statement. “In these turbulent times, it serves as a reminder that no government should be above the law. Democratic societies must