Popular WhatsApp messaging platform 'blocked' in rebel-held Yemen

Popular WhatsApp messaging platform 'blocked' in rebel-held Yemen
Reports suggest the instant messaging app has been blocked by Houthi rebels who control the country's Telecommunications Ministry.
2 min read
05 October, 2016
Yemen only has one official internet service provider [Getty]
Users of "WhatsApp" in Yemen were unable to use the instant messaging mobile app after it was blocked by the YemenNet, the only internet service provider in the country, Gulf news website Gulf Eyes reported on Tuesday. 

Gulf Eyes apportioned blame for the breakdown in Whatsapp services to Houthi rebels who have controlled the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, based in Sanaa, since orchestrating a coup against the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2014. 

Since the 2014 coop, Gulf Eyes reported, dozens of news websites and applications have been blocked, including the photo-sharing app Instagram.

According to Citizen Lab, a research and development hub at the University of Toronto, since Houthi forces took control of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology in Sanaa, content filtering has "changed substantially" and includes blocks on a wide variety of political content targeting local and regional news and media "in a non-transparent way, with fake network error pages delivered back to users."

Internet and Whatsapp users in Yemen have sought to overcome the increased censorship using VPN addresses linked to other countries in order to bypass the security measures. 

Current conflict in Yemen has pitted the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who are centred in Sanaa against the Saudi-supported Hadi government based in Aden.

According to the UN more than 6,600 people have been killed and at least three million people displaced since a Saudi-led Arab coalition, backing Mansour, launched military operations in the country in March 2015.