(LibertySociety.com) – Chinese officials recently announced that state-affiliated experts in Beijing at the Wangshen Dongjian Justice Appraisal Institute found a way to identify people who use Apple AirDrop to share information they do not want to be seen by the Chinese government. Device logs on Apple iPhones are encrypted, which has troubled the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for several years. Back in 2022, media outlets reported that iPhone users were using AirDrop to share leaflets that contained criticism of the government. The justice bureau of Beijing’s municipal government said in a statement that the breakthrough solved the problem of transmitting “inappropriate information with anonymous traceability.”
The institute did not report the arrest of any individuals for information sharing since they cracked the code. However, the statement also said that the new method has helped detect and resolve cases and has “effectively helped police ascertain several case suspects,” according to CBS News. The 2022 reports of sharing anonymous information via AirDrop were thought to be related to banners that were hung during a protest demanding President Xi Jinping’s removal. Apple has complied with many of China’s demands that keep its citizens from collectively communicating their grievances with the government. In 2022, the company released an update that limited users to just 10 minutes of receiving files from unknown contacts before shutting off. The change was designed to prevent strangers from sharing information.
Apple’s compliance with China’s demands has prompted widespread criticism of the company. In October 2023, Apple began requiring app developers to submit their Internet Content Provider (ICP) to the CCP to be listed on China’s version of the Apple App Store. This change closed a loophole that allowed Chinese iPhone users to utilize VPNs to download YouTube and other apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, all of which are banned in China. App developers wishing to obtain an ICP license are now required to have Chinese back-end hosts to be included in the App Store.
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