Hong Kong Protestors Bypass Chinese Restrictions Using This Covert iPhone Feature

Iphone Xs China Ban Credit: Issei Kato / Reuters
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AirDrop is incredibly useful for a wide variety of tasks — from transferring files between your devices to breaching government firewalls.

Protestors in Hong Kong, who have been mobilizing in opposition to a controversial extradition bill, figured out how to use Apple’s file-sharing feature for that latter purpose over the weekend, Quartz reported.

China’s Great Firewall, as you may or may not know, is a set of regulations and technologies that restrict what kind of information and platforms are available online in the country. Popular sites like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia, for example, are banned in China.

News of the protests in Hong Kong, for example, have largely been censored on the Chinese internet. But Hong Kongers are apparently using AirDrop, which allow files to be shared via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to get the word out to Chinese tourists in Hong Kong.

At a large rally held on July 7, protestors used AirDrop to share pro-democracy and anti-extradition messages with tourists from mainland China. The messages were written in simplified Chinese, which makes their intended audience pretty clear. (Hong Kongers use traditional Chinese.)

“Don’t wait until (freedom) is gone to regret its loss,” one message read. “Freedom isn’t god-given; it is fought for by the people.”

Some of the AirDropped files even included QR codes that appeared to be linked to Alipay and WeChat Pay, two of China’s major mobile payment platforms. Tourists who scanned the QR codes were treated to information about the dangers of the extradition law.

Hong Kong is technically part of China, but has long had some degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle. As China seeks to assert more control over Hong Kong, many of the city’s residents have taken to the streets to protest.

The extradition bill in question is a proposed measure that would, among other things, set up a legal framework between Hong Kong and other jurisdictions that don’t currently have extradition agreements.

Learn More: What Is AirDrop?

While the Hong Kong government claims the bill is a way to ensure that the city doesn’t become a haven for criminals, opponents say that the bill could lead to anyone who speaks out against the Chinese government to be arrested in Hong Kong and sent to the mainland for trial.

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