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charlesarthur : hongkong   13

China’s global reach: surveillance and censorship beyond the Great Firewall • Electronic Frontier Foundation
Danny O'Brien:
<p>The <a href="">Great Cannon</a> is a large-scale technology deployed by ISPs based in China to inject javascript code into customers’ insecure (HTTP) requests. This code weaponizes the millions of mainland Chinese Internet connections that pass through these ISPs. When users visit insecure websites, their browsers will also download and run the government’s malicious javascript—which will cause them to send additional traffic to sites outside the Great Firewall, potentially slowing these websites down for other users, or overloading them entirely.

The Great Cannon’s debut in 2015 took down Github, where Chinese users were hosting anti-censorship software and mirrors of otherwise-banned news outlets like the New York Times. Following widespread international backlash, this attack was halted.

Last month, the Great Cannon was activated once again, aiming this time at Hong Kong protestors. It briefly took down LIHKG, a Hong Kong social media platform central to organizing this summer’s protests.</p>
china  hongkong 
yesterday by charlesarthur
Apple, Google pull Hong Kong protest apps after China uproar • WSJ
Tripp Mickle, Jeff Horwitz and Yoko Kubota:
<p>Apple and Google both removed apps associated with Hong Kong’s antigovernment protests from their digital stores in recent days, thrusting the two Silicon Valley giants into the controversy engulfing US companies related to the unrest.

Apple removed from its App Store a crowdsourced map service that allows Hong Kong protesters to track police activity, one day after the Chinese Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper lashed out at the iPhone maker, calling the app “toxic software.”

Apple said it pulled the app, called, because of concerns it endangered law enforcement and residents.

Separately, Alphabet’s Google unit removed from its Google Play store a mobile game that allowed players to role-play as a Hong Kong protester. According to the developer, Google said the app, called “The Revolution of Our Times,” violated rules related to “sensitive events.”

Google pulled the app after a request from the Hong Kong police, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A Google spokesman said that the company has a policy that prohibits developers from “capitalizing on sensitive events such as attempting to make money from serious ongoing conflicts or tragedies through a game”, and that it found the app to be in violation of this policy.</p>

Maciej Cieglowski, who is in Hong Kong, <a href="">calls bullshit on Tim Cook's claims</a> (in a verified internal email) that the HKLive app has been used maliciously to target police officers for violence. The site is still available as far as we know as a web app (which certainly proves that there are situations where the web thoroughly trumps apps).

Google's position - only the WSJ seems to have reported it - seems defensible, at least given that you can call what's going on there "serious ongoing conflict".
apple  google  hongkong  china 
4 days ago by charlesarthur
Thread by @Grummz: "This hurts. But until Blizzard reverses their decision on @blitzchungHS I am giving up playing Classic WoW…" • Twitter
Mark Kern is a "game designer, CEO, writer":
<p>This hurts. But until Blizzard reverses their decision on @blitzchungHS I am giving up playing Classic WoW, which I helped make and helped convince Blizzard to relaunch. There will be no Mark of Kern guild after all.

Let me explain why I am #BoycottBlizzard. I am ethnically Chinese. I was born in Taiwan and I lived in Hong Kong for a time. I have done buisiness with China for many years, with serveral gaming companies there.</p>

As you'll recall from yesterday, Blizzard banned a pro gamer for supporting the Hong Kong protesters. This is a link to his whole thread, which is detailed and powerful.
blizzard  games  china  hongkong 
5 days ago by charlesarthur
'Protecting rioters': China warns Apple over app that tracks Hong Kong police • The Guardian
Verna Yu:
<p>The app, which crowdsources the location of police and anti-government protesters, was approved by Apple on 4 October and went on its App Store a day later, after the company reversed an earlier decision to reject the submission, according to an anonymous developer cited in the South China Morning Post. The app displays hotspots on a map of the city that is continuously updated as users report incidents, hence allowing protesters to avoid police.

The headline of the People’s Daily commentary carried by its official microblog on Wednesday said: “Protecting rioters – Has Apple thought clearly about this?”

It went on to say: “Allowing the ‘poisonous’ app to flourish is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings.”

The is reportedly the most downloaded app under the travel category in the iOS App Store for Hong Kong.

Without specifically naming the app, the People’s Daily commentary said it allowed “Hong Kong rioters to openly commit crime while openly escaping arrests”. It said Apple’s approval of the app made it an “accomplice” in the protests because it “blatantly protects and endorses the rioters”. It questioned what the company’s intentions were.

It also criticised Apple for allowing Glory to Hong Kong – an unofficial anthem frequently sung by protesters during the ongoing anti-government movement – to be available for download in the Apple music store.</p>

This is even trickier than the usual political rapids Apple has to negotiate over China. Hong Kong is part of China, but it is a separate part (something like, but not exactly like, Puerto Rico's relationship to the US), and Apple has <a href="">separate app stores for Hong Kong and for China</a>. So should complaints about Hong Kong that come from China be ignored?
china  hongkong  apple 
5 days ago by charlesarthur
Blizzard subreddit closes after devs suspend Hearthstone player for pro-Hong Kong statements • Kotaku UK
Ian Walker:
<p>Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai recently made waves when, during an official competition, he voiced support for Hong Kong amidst ongoing protests over Chinese rule. He’s since been <a href="">suspended</a> from competition by Hearthstone developer Blizzard and stripped of his tournament winnings, a move that has been widely criticised. During all this turmoil, the Blizzard forum on Reddit has chosen to close until further notice.

As was first reported by Eurogamer, moderators at the Blizzard subreddit set the forum to be private this afternoon. Naturally, players and fans continued to voice anger and dissatisfaction with Blizzard elsewhere. For now, the Hearthstone subreddit remains active, with much of the discussion focused on how to request refunds for various Blizzard purchases and some saying they are quitting Hearthstone altogether in protest of Wai’s punishment.

“I’ve played Hearthstone since early 2014,” one Reddit user said. “I’ve spent around £200 in the game and countless of hours. Today was my last day playing Hearthstone. You all know it by now. What Blizzard has done, or rather what they have become, is just a straight up tragedy. Vote with your wallet people, it’s the only language they understand.”</p>

Didn't have Hong Kong on the list as "crucially divisive topic of 2019", but here we are. Bad from Blizzard, though.
hongkong  blizzard 
6 days ago by charlesarthur
Here's that hippie, pro-privacy, pro-freedom Apple y'all so love: Hong Kong protest safety app banned from iOS store • The Register
Kieren McCarthy:
<p>Apple has banned an app that allows people in Hong Kong to keep track of protests and police activity in the city state, claiming such information is illegal.

“Your app contains content - or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity - that is not legal ... specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement," the American tech giant <a href="">told</a> makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before pulling it.

The makers, and many others, have taken exception to that argument, by pointing out that the app only allows people to note locations - as many countless thousands of other apps do - and so under the same logic, apps such as driving app Waze should also be banned.

That argument is obtuse of course given that the sole purpose of HKmap Live is to track police activity on the streets of Hong Kong and not to help people navigate to other locations. For example, at the time of writing – 0300 Hong Kong time – there are only a few messages live but they are clearly intended to provide ongoing intelligence on police movements…

…Hong Kong citizens have highlighted a quirk of local laws that provide a strong counter-argument: under the law, the Hong Kong police are obliged to wave a blue flag at the spot in which they wish to declare that an illegal gathering is taking place.

The intent is to give citizens sufficient notice and time to move away from the area before any police action is taken. The HKmap Live app simply takes that official approach and extends it to citizens, allowing them to notify others of action that will be taken in specific locations.

It is far from clear whether Apple has undertaken that kind of legal review, or whether it is choosing to follow local law or US law in declaring the app illegal.</p>
apple  hongkong 
11 days ago by charlesarthur
How Mexican app Bridgefy is connecting protesters in Hong Kong • LatAm List
Bridget Wood:
<p>Bridgefy is a Mexican startup based in San Francisco that makes apps send messages directly from one device to another, without using Internet or SMS. The app is currently being used by protestors in Hong Kong, sometimes gathered up to one million strong, when the cell network is unable to keep up with demand. Protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months as the territory argues overs sovereignty with China and have flared up again in the past month. 

LatAm List interviewed Bridgefy co-founder and CEO, Jorge Rios, to learn more about the story behind the software and how it is being used to connect protesters in Hong Kong. </p>

The protesters also don't want to use the mobile networks because they don't want to be traced. Despite the government there rowing back on its extradition bill, the protests seem set to go on.
hongkong  protest  mesh  internet 
5 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Real-time maps warn Hong Kong protesters of police • Quartz
Mary Hui:
<p>One of the most widely used real-time maps of the protests is <a href=""></a>, a volunteer-run and crowdsourced effort that officially launched in early August. It’s a dynamic map of Hong Kong that users can zoom in and out of, much like Google Maps. But in addition to detailed street and building names, this one features various emoji to communicate information at a glance: a dog for police, a worker in a yellow hardhat for protesters, a dinosaur for the police’s black-clad special tactical squad, a white speech-bubble for tear gas, two exclamation marks for danger.

<img src="" width="100%" />
<em>HKMap during a protest on August 31, 2019</em>

Founded by a finance professional in his 20s and who only wished to be identified as Kuma, HKMap is an attempt to level the playing field between protesters and officers, he said in an interview over chat app Telegram. While earlier on in the protest movement people relied on text-based, on-the-ground  live updates through public Telegram channels, Kuma found these to be too scattered to be effective, and hard to visualize unless someone knew the particular neighborhood inside out.

“The huge asymmetric information between protesters and officers led to multiple occasions of surround and capture,” said Kuma. Passersby and non-frontline protesters could also make use of the map, he said, to avoid tense conflict zones. After some of his friends were arrested in late July, he decided to build HKMap.</p>
maps  hongkong  protests 
5 weeks ago by charlesarthur
A walk in Hong Kong • Idle Words
Maciej Cieglowski went to the Hong Kong protesters as an observer, having come to the US as a child from communist-era Poland:
<p>coming in to the Hong Kong protests from a less developed country like the United States is disorienting. If you have never visited one of the Zeroth World cities of Asia, like Taipei or Singapore, it can be hard to convey their mix of high density, mazelike design, utterly reliable public services, and high social cohesion, any more than it was possible for me or my parents to imagine a real American city, no matter how many movies we saw. And then to have to write about protests on top of it!

It’s hard to write articulately about the Five Demands when one keeps getting brought up short by basic things, like the existence of clean public bathrooms.

The time and location of protests are set via social media alchemy; once you get notified about one, you descend through a spotless mall onto a bright and clean train platform, get whisked away by a train that arrives almost immediately, step out into another mall, then finally walk outside into overwhelming heat and a gathering group of demonstrators.

When it’s over, whether the demonstrators have dispersed of their own will, or are running from rubber bullets and tear gas, you duck into another mall, and another train, and within minutes are back in a land of infinite hypercommerce, tiny alleys and posh hotels with their lobby on the 40th floor of a skyscraper.

Not everyone lives in a luxury hotel, man! I get it. But my eyes are like saucers. I ask forgiveness of Hong Kongers if at times I am still that six year old kid, dazzled by what to you is ordinary. You live in a kind of city we Americans can only aspire to, and it’s no wonder you love your home so much you will take any risk to save it.</p>

And then there's the protests, which <a href="">Zeynep Tufekci</a> also attended. (Also: which is the most advanced American city? I've been to a few, but none has struck me as ahead of any major one in Europe.)
china  politics  hongkong 
6 weeks ago by charlesarthur
In Hong Kong's protests, faces become weapons • The New York Times
Paul Mozur:
<p>The police officers wrestled with Colin Cheung in an unmarked car. They needed his face.

They grabbed his jaw to force his head in front of his iPhone. They slapped his face. They shouted, “Wake up!” They pried open his eyes. It all failed: Mr. Cheung had disabled his phone’s facial-recognition login with a quick button mash as soon as they grabbed him.

As Hong Kong convulses amid weeks of protests, demonstrators and the police have turned identity into a weapon. The authorities are tracking protest leaders online and seeking their phones. Many protesters now cover their faces, and they fear that the police are using cameras and possibly other tools to single out targets for arrest.

And when the police stopped wearing identification badges as the violence escalated, some protesters began to expose officers’ identities online. One fast-growing channel on the social messaging app Telegram seeks and publishes personal information about officers and their families. The channel, “Dadfindboy,” has more than 50,000 subscribers and advocates violence in crude and cartoonish ways. Rival pro-government channels seek to unmask protesters in a similar fashion…

…The authorities in Hong Kong have outlined strict privacy controls for the use of facial recognition and the collection of other biometric data, although the extent of their efforts is unclear. They also appear to be using other technological methods for tracking protesters. Last month, a 22-year old man was arrested for being the administrator of a Telegram group.</p>
hongkong  protest  faces 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Why YouTube keeps demonetizing videos of the Hong Kong protests • OneZero
Will Oremus:
<p>the company’s guidelines would seem to rule out ads on huge swaths of what is generally considered mainstream news coverage. Imagine your evening newscast stripped of any story whose topic includes “violence,” “harmful or dangerous acts,” “tobacco,” “firearms,” or “controversial issues and sensitive events.” Note further that YouTube’s explanation of that last category includes “war,” “death and tragedies,” “political conflicts,” “terrorism or extremism,” and “sexual abuse.” You’d be left with the local sports roundup, the winning lotto numbers, and weather report — assuming, one supposes, the weather isn’t causing any deaths or tragedies.

In practice, it’s clear that YouTube makes plenty of exceptions for news coverage. You can find ads on segments about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar to clashes between Israel and Hamas in the West Bank. But when pressed by OneZero to explain on what basis it makes those exceptions, YouTube declined to elaborate, except to clarify that videos of political protests are eligible for ads unless those protests include violence. That’s a tricky stance, given that many protest movements start off peaceful but escalate to include incidents of violence — as has happened in Hong Kong.

On June 16, China Uncensored posted a video called “Biggest Protest in Hong Kong’s History,” chronicling the massive demonstrations of the day before. It was quickly marked by YouTube with a yellow monetization icon, indicating that it was eligible for “limited or no ads.”</p>

The problem with an unaccountable, inexplicable paymaster.
youtube  hongkong  advertising  socialwarming 
july 2019 by charlesarthur
Hong Kong protests: measuring the masses • Reuters
Simon Scarr, Manas Sharma, Marco Hernandez and Vimvam Tong:
<p>Robert Chung, director of the program, said headcounts were getting hopelessly politicised. “Headcount calling has become less and less scientific,” Chung said. “One side bluffs more and more, the other side compresses harder and harder, both have gone beyond reality.”

Professor Yip, who also worked on crowd estimates for the June 16 rally, said: “I think the gap between the organisers and police becoming wider is a reflection of how much distrust is in the community. The wider the gap, the wider distrust.”

HKUPOP typically measures flow over the duration of a march, no matter how long, with estimates adjusted based on sample interviews with protesters about where they joined the march and when. The program did not deploy a team to measure crowd size on June 9 or June 16. But Yip said that based on what he saw of the march, he estimated the latest rally to have drawn 500,000 to 800,000 people.

It seems unlikely police and protesters in Hong Kong will reach a consensus about the size of crowds during marches and other rallies. And the science behind crowd counting will continue to evolve as researchers find more accurate ways to measure how many people take to the streets. But Yip said both sides may be missing the point by arguing over numbers.</p>

Long, scientific and detailed; but also pointing out that scientific might be the least useful way to think about it, because it's political. (Via <a href="">Sophie Warnes's Fair Warning newsletter</a>.)
crowd  hongkong  maths 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
My week in Lucky House: the horror of Hong Kong's coffin homes • The Guardian
Benjamin Haas goes to the place with "some of the poorest people in the most expensive city in the world":
<p>When I enter my coffin for the first time, I immediately notice the strong musty smell. I imagine the other residents in their bunks, each one roughly 60cm (two feet) wide and 170cm (5 ft 7 in) long, with only enough space to sit up. Living in such a confining space takes a mental toll but my week pales in comparison to the other residents who have been living there for months, sometimes years.

At night I can hear everything happening around me: every punch, kick and scream from my neighbour’s kung fu movie; the smacking of lips eating barbecue meat with rice; a brief argument over who will use the sole shower next and, of course, a symphony of snoring.

The next morning the sound of a plastic travel alarm clock first wakes me up at 5.30am. But in my coffin, there is almost no sense of time. It could be any hour of the day, and no natural light would reach me. For that I would have to leave my bunk and walk to the sole window at the other end of the apartment.

When I finally leave my coffin around 7.:30am, one of my neighbours is already preparing his first dose of meth for the day. Hong Kong’s coffin homes have a reputation for danger and filth, sheltering convicted criminals and drug abusers, and in my short time I saw roughly a quarter of the people regularly using drugs.

But the residents of Lucky House were also some of the friendliest people I’ve met in Hong Kong, and almost instantly welcomed me, with one person in particular keen to show me the ropes of coffin living.</p>
august 2017 by charlesarthur

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