Apple limited a crucial AirDrop function in China just weeks before protests

0

A recent Apple software update limits the AirDrop file-sharing feature for users in China.

Noel Celis | Afp | Getty Images

Protests in China have attracted international attention as the greatest challenge of President Xi Jinping’s premiership and a major knock to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) longstanding authority.

But their spread within China was partially hobbled by a key change in Apple‘s AirDrop feature, launched just weeks before the unrest.

AirDrop, which allows users to share content between Apple devices, has become an important tool in protestors’ efforts to circumvent authoritarian censorship regimes over recent years.

That is because it relies on wireless connections between phones, rather than internet connectivity, placing it beyond the scope of internet content moderators. It uses Bluetooth to form a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network between two devices.

The tool was used widely during Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests, when demonstrators would share messages and protest literature with passers by and visitors from mainland China through AirDrop’s open network.

More recently, in mid-October, AirDrop was reportedly used to disseminate messages based on banners produced by a Beijing demonstrator known as “Bridge man.”

China-only software update

However, it was limited earlier this month, when a Nov. 9 update to Apple’s global operating system, iOS 16.1.1, included an additional AirDrop feature applying only to iPhones sold in mainland China.

Under the update, iPhones can now only set their AirDrop to receive messages from “everyone” for 10 minutes before switching off. The other settings allow for file-sharing between “contacts only” or “receiving off.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. In an online statement, the company said the software update includes “bug fixes and security updates and is recommended for all users.”

The change was first noticed by Chinese readers of fan site 9to5Mac, as reported by Quartz, and doesn’t currently apply to iPhone users in other countries.

According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to make the update a global feature next year.

Quashing swelling dissent

FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Todays Chronic is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – todayschronic.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment