Hong Kong cyber activists are backing articles by pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily on censorship-proof blockchain platforms after the paper was forced to shut down when it became embroiled in a security law crackdown. national.
The latest push to preserve the newspaper’s content comes after activists rushed to upload documentaries from local broadcaster RTHK investigating people in power after the outlet said it would remove materials with more than a year old from their social media platforms.
Under national security law, the Hong Kong government can request the blocking or removal of content it deems subversive or secessionist, raising fears about internet freedom in the global financial hub.
The Hong Kong government says that Internet use will not be affected as long as its use is within the law.
“Law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly in accordance with Hong Kong laws, and by the acts of the person(s) or entity (is) in question,” said a spokesperson for the Security Office. .
This year, the company that approves Internet domains in Hong Kong said it would reject any site that could incite “illegal acts.” Internet service provider Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) said it had blocked access to HKChronicles, a website that provides information on anti-government protests.
Fearing that the security law could bring elements of China’s great firewall into Hong Kong, limiting access to dissenting views, Ho, 21, who works in technology and did not give his name due to the sensitivity of the matter, began this week to upload Apple Daily articles to decentralized file storage platform ARWeave.
After midnight, while printers were working for the last time, Apple Daily shut down its website and wiped all of its social media platforms after authorities froze company-related assets as part of a national security investigation.
“I’m not doing this because I love Apple Daily, it’s the thing to do,” Ho said. “I never thought Apple Daily would disappear so fast.”
Police froze assets of companies linked to Apple Daily and arrested five executives last week, moves that prompted the paper to print its latest edition on Thursday.
Authorities have said that dozens of Apple Daily articles may have violated security law, but there was no suggestion that Apple Daily content would be blocked or censored.
Similar to BitTorrent, ARWeave splits a file into bits of information spread across an open network of anonymous computers around the world. On its website, it describes itself as a “collectively owned hard drive that is never forgotten.”
As of Thursday, more than 4,000 Apple Daily articles had been uploaded to ARWeave. Hundreds of RTHK programs dating back to 2012 are also available.
Another programmer, Kin Ko, 47, has been building a decentralized ledger called LikeCoin. The blockchain platform helps internet users to identify the metadata (creator, date, time, location, version) of content through a unique number called an International Standard Content Number (ISCN), similar to the distinctive International Standard Book Number. of a book.
Any changes made to the content would be known and tracked through changes to your digital footprint.
The digital repository is still in its beta phase and its official launch is months away. But pro-democracy online outlet Citizen News told Reuters that it has already used LikeCoin to catalog its images.
Ko’s initial idea was to create a platform that could authenticate any type of content and he did not expect his platform to be embraced so enthusiastically by pro-democracy activists.
But, he said: “History should not be determined by those in power.”