Outright bans and blockages for certain things are not an unfamiliar thing in China. In fact, the country is considered as one with the strictest censorship rules. From videos to applications and even computer software, it doesn’t take much to have it banned in China. There is no distinction between paid or free software, as long as there’s something that goes against the norm when relating to China, then there is a great chance that it will be banned. Recently, Notepad++, a free software used as a text and source code editor, was the recipient of such a ban, proving the claims mentioned above.
Some users in China have reported that when trying to download the free-to-use Notepad++ application, a prompt will pop up in your screen, which states that the application contains “illegal information”. This error can only be seen when trying to access the download part of the website, while the actual home page can still be accessed. In a tweet reported by TechCrunch, Notepad++ developer Don Ho confirmed that the program was indeed banned for apparent reasons.
Problem With “Free Uyghur” Edition:
One of those reasons can be attributed to an update that was released by Ho last October 2019, the release of Notepad++ v7.8.1, which was named as the “Free Uyghur” edition. When accessing the update’s release notes section, it was noted that it included multiple details and information about how the Uyghur people are being treated in China. Ho also included various links and websites that users can visit, which allows them to know the different ways that help can be provided to the Uyghur people.
In a similar fashion, only last month (July 2020), v7.8.9 of the editor was released and named the “Stand with Hong Kong” edition. This release included a discussion which sheds some additional knowledge regarding the so-called “National security law”. The notes contains an explanation on how the new law can be problematic not just for Hong Kong but also for the world. According to Ho, the law states that “_Any American or European who stands up for Hong Kong in the USA or in Europe and violates this law, can be arrested in Hong Kong, even in the stop-over flight in HK_”. Given the sensitive issue which practically impinges our basic human rights,
Ho has stated that he “rejects the idea the our free speech rights are restrained by an authoritarian country”, and that “Notepad++ stands with the people of Hong Kong”.
Given the nature of the 2 recent updates of the software, it is pretty safe to assume that either one of these is enough to trigger the ban in China. With this, Ho stated that he expected it to come and he says that it wasn’t a surprise that it happened, adding that the reason for the ban was “obvious”. The responses given to the tweet informing them of the ban of Notepad++ was mostly positive. Ho states that it is an “honor” being banned for standing up and highlighting these injustices.