Technology: Hong Kong protestors use Bridgefy to preempt internet shutdown - PressFrom - US
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TechnologyHong Kong protestors use Bridgefy to preempt internet shutdown

00:40  04 september  2019
00:40  04 september  2019 Source:   qz.com

Hong Kong leader says extradition bill is dead after mass protests

Hong Kong leader says extradition bill is dead after mass protests Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the extradition bill that sparked the territory's biggest political crisis in decades was dead, admitting that the government's work on the bill had been a "total failure". The bill, which would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trial, sparked huge and at times violent street protests and plunged the former British colony into turmoil. In mid-June Lam responded to huge protests by suspending the bill, but that move failed to mollify critics, who continued to demonstrate against the bill and call for Lam's resignation.

Hong Kong is protesting , but it's not always easy to organize. When the Chinese government started censoring social media, protesters turned to Firechat, a

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been turning to a new app to communicate - one that does not use the internet and is therefore harder for the Chinese authorities to trace. Bridgefy is based on Bluetooth and allows protesters to communicate with each other without internet connection.

As Hong Kong’s government clamps down on pro-democracy protestors, Carrie Lam, chief executive of the special administrative region, has left open the possibility of shutting off internet access. Doing so would stymie protestors’ organizational efforts and could stanch the flow of information from the region.

Hong Kong protestors use Bridgefy to preempt internet shutdown© Provided by Atlantic Media, Inc. Attendees hold up their lit mobile phones during a rally by civil servants to support the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong, China.

In response to the potential threat, protestors have begun using mesh networking technologies. These services rely on Bluetooth, allowing users to communicate through a network of devices that are linked locally, rather than over an internet connection. These types of connections are often called peer-to-peer networks.

HK activists, Beijing supporters demonstrate in London

HK activists, Beijing supporters demonstrate in London Demonstrators backing the democracy activists in Hong Kong marched in London on Saturday, as counter-protesters staged a rival rally. 

Bridgefy is a developer-friendly SDK that can be easily integrated into Android and iOS mobile apps to make them work without Internet . Billions of potential users own a smartphone but don't always have access to Internet . This shouldn't be a reason for them to have to stop using your app.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been turning to a new app to communicate - one that does not use the internet and is therefore harder for the Chinese authorities to trace. Bridgefy is based on Bluetooth and allows protesters to communicate with each other without internet connection.

It’s not the first time protesters in the region have turned to mesh networks to stay organized. One such app, FireChat, played an important role in Hong Kong’s 2014 democracy protests. More recently, an app called Bridgefy—available for free on iOS and Android—has soared in popularity.

“We’ve seen more than 60,000 app installations in just the past seven days, most of them from Hong Kong,” Bridgefy CEO Jorge Rios told Forbes Monday (Sept. 2). “People are using it to organize themselves and to stay safe, without having to depend on an internet connection.”

Rios also said the app created minimal danger for users, “with there being very little risk of messages being read by unwanted eyes.” However, computer security expert Alan Woodward, a professor at the University of Surrey, threw cold water on that claim.

Twitter says accounts linked to China tried to 'sow political discord' in Hong Kong

Twitter says accounts linked to China tried to 'sow political discord' in Hong Kong Twitter says a "significant state-backed information operation" involving hundreds of accounts linked back to China were part of an effort to deliberately "sow political discord" in Hong Kong after weeks of protests in the region. In a blog post, the social networking site said the 936 accounts it found tried to undermine "the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground." More than a million protesters took to the streets this weekend to demonstrate peacefully against the Chinese government, which took over rule from the British government in 1997.

Hong Kong protestors use offline chat apps to avoid government surveillance. Bridgefy also offers an API that allows developers to use its tech for their own apps, though this is chargeable. Hong Kong has, since Britain handed back control in 1997, been a Special Administrative Region of the People’s

Protestors in Hong Kong are using the messaging app FireChat to communicate without using cellular or Internet service. Pro-democracy protestors downloaded the app 100,000 times between Sunday and Monday morning. “When your smartphone cannot connect to a cellular tower or Wi-Fi it

“With any peer-to-peer network, if you have the know-how, you can sit at central points of it and monitor which device is talking to which device and this metadata can tell you who is involved in chats,” Woodward told BBC. “[A]nyone can join the mesh and it uses Bluetooth, which is not the most secure protocol.”

He added: “The authorities might not be able to listen in quite so easily but I suspect that they will have the means of doing it.”

Bridgefy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Despite potential shortcomings, Bridgefy exemplifies the tools Hong Kong protestors have at their disposal, even if the government blocks internet service providers. The protests also emphasize the need for open-source, peer-to-peer encrypted messaging software. For now, Briar—one of the best mesh network alternatives, which makes its source code public and encrypts your messages—is only available on Android.

How Hong Kong protesters are embracing ‘offline’ messaging apps to avoid being snooped on.
As pro-democracy rallies rage in Hong Kong, protestors are increasingly switching to peer-to-peer mesh networking apps like Bridgefy and FireChat. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); With the government keeping a close eye on social networks — homegrown and elsewhere — in an attempt to stifle dissent, these off-the-grid messaging apps have proven to be a blessing in disguise.

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This is interesting!