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The Essential Tool for Hong Kong Protesters? An Umbrella (bloomberg.com)
153 points by baylearn 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

> Chinese e-commerce sites like Taobao and AliExpress no longer sell them to customers in Hong Kong

Impressive coordination of public & private bureaucracies

A cursory glance indicates I am perfectly able to buy an umbrella from Ali express in Hong Kong - didn't go all the way through the purchase however.

I do somewhat question the reliability of the source in this instance.

Maybe because they’re one and the same?

Not really, it's more impressive to block whole countries (not just your own) to do business with Iran for example.

Impressive coordination of public bureaucracies & state owned enterprises.

Following the Be water thinking, ppl start to have no specific items or clothes to represent themselves now. So the essential tool would be the determination to live in this city with courage, hope, dignity and helping each other in a crisis created by no one but the government.

This government has lost all its credibility within a hundred day, which is impressive in a way I guess? I don’t think HK will be totally recovered when CCP continues to intervene. The damage has be made, and the scar will always be there.

>...and the scar will always be there.

Will it? I think over time, people will forget.

When the British colonized Hong Kong, they were especially brutal to the protestors. During the protests in the late 1960s, the British controlled police killed over 50 protesters.

Yet today, the protesters are wishing for the British to intervene.

It’s worth noting that after the 1960s protests, Britain made laissez-faire policy official and economic growth skyrocketed, creating lasting social changes that were beneficial for boosting living standards.

To win the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers, Beijing needs to either give people the power to dismantle an economy strangled by property tycoons (e.g. electing a chief executive with actual power) or do it itself, and neither is permissible. China will never let a territory it controls have unfettered universal suffrage, and the mainland itself is turning into the conglomerate/tycoon economy that now restricts Hong Kong. Which is a great deal of irony for a party that started riots over working conditions in the 1960s.

One thing I learnt from playing walking dead - the game is that citizen will remember your decision.

New york time has the 1967 riot covered by interviewing a old lady in her 90s. And I think she mentioned a good point, is that power leads to corruption. So in general, how democracy work, how tools like tech like Telegram may lead to a leader-less way of governence, is quite interesting.

https://cn.nytimes.com/china/20190920/hongkong-north-point-1... (not sure if english version is available)

Remember 2014, Kyiv, Maidan. We actively used a push-to-talk mobile app Zello. Cheap used mobile phone, burner sim-card without id, and you're on the way. Also many people used whatsapp, Facebook was very liberal to UA protesters.

"Winter on fire", Netflix, highly recommend.

Of course times changing, and heard now Zello is affiliated with Russian government.

Yeah, but there are new options. I've seen Telegram and Briar both listed as options that the Hong Kong protesters have used. When a company sells out to the state, it's time to switch to another one. Briar, in particular, was made specifically for dissidents and protesters.

People should seriously consider Keybase with it's non-required use of a phone number and strong encryption in every chat. I'm not in any way affiliated with them but I just don't like Telegram suggested with it's unaudited homebrewn crypto and Russian roots.

The unaudited thing is definitely raising questions but, come on, let's not act like people being from a certain country should automatically discard them. Signal is made by Americans and so is Briar, I'd hope neither are thought of as NSA stooges or something. Telegram creators got essentially run out of the country and the app itself was banned in Russia, that's a pretty good sign that there's no cooperation with the government.

Not suggesting we put blind trust into it, just saying it's unfair to judge an app by where its makers come from.

It's definitely not a single thing (e.g. origin) I find untrustworthy, it's the things combined (homemade crypto + Russian origin).

I thought Briar was made in the UK?

Crypto that's not "on" by default.

Their encryption is on by default, just not the end-to-end kind. I know that's pedantic but it's true.

By that logic you could call FB Messenger encrypted and IRC, but that's not really the encryption we're talking about.

Except we all know that FB harvests every ounce of data they can get, of course we disregard their encryption. But Telegram hasn't been caught doing that and I haven't seen any reports of their regular encryption being broken. Not exactly a fair comparison.

What's the most effective way to support the Hong Kong protesters/people?

This is great, thank you.

Makes me think of this: https://unbreakableumbrella.com/product/unbreakable-walking-...

I own one and it’s a great umbrella that I have only ever used for conventional purposes. :)

Now I just need to learn this Kunfgu set ...


Are there any interesting startups specifically focused on protest technology?

Not protest-tech per se, but Alphabet's Jigsaw [0] has an impressive collection of opensource tools they themselves built.

And the usual suspects (a few are not startups): the guardianproject [1], lantern-vpn [2], the tor-project [3], freedom-box [4], matrix [5], GNU Jami [6], letsencrypt, grapheneos [7], signal [8], freedom.press [9] ivpn / pia / mulluvad et al.

[0] https://jigsaw.google.com

[1] https://guardianproject.info

[2] https://getlantern.org

[3] https://torproject.org

[4] https://freedomboxfoundation.org

[5] https://matrix.org

[6] https://jami.net

[7] https://grapheneos.org

[8] https://signal.org

[9] https://freedom.press

Protest is not a technology problem

Part of the inspiration for us building Umbrella: a free, open source app with advice on how activists can deal with protests, arrests, surveillance and communication. It's available in multiple languages, including Chinese. (More information at https://www.secfirst.org)

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/umbrella-security/id14537153...

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.secfirst.u...

See Zeynep Tufekci's Twitter thread on Rory Byrne, who you Do Not Want To Be.


To be remembered as the Umbrella Revolution.

Terrible GDPR page - not clear if you’re answering “yes” or “no”

Why do websites insist on the most terrible custom designs? What’s wrong with “input type=checkbox”?

The "not clear if you’re answering “yes” or “no”" part is the entire point of the deliberately poor design. See https://www.darkpatterns.org/ for more examples

Tbh they’d probably get more people to answer “yes” if they made the “yes” very clear. Most people just blindly press whatever looks like yes. The dark pattern would have the opposite effect in this case imo.

I love that video. It was a great little example video about dark patterns .. and then we get to the end and it’s got a freaking NordVPN ad (not ad network, but actually spoken). Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Haha I didn't know they made a verb out of Zuckerberg's name.

Anyone have a quick summary for the paywalled folks?

Next year on AliExpress, weaponized umbrella's

Yeah, they will shock the user if opened in a protest area.

> “If you compare the umbrella with the weapon the others are using to attack us, the umbrella is nothing for that. Actually, umbrellas are really easily broken and we only use it to protect ourselves.”

Are umbrellas in China just really light and flimsy? I've had a lot of umbrellas heavy and sturdy enough to do some serious damage if I were so inclined.

Compared to British umbrellas.


That video screen on the inside of the umbrella could be made with some portable beamer projecting it, would be cool to have in a storm so you could see oncoming traffic haha

You know, there are transparent umbrellas out there...

Nice. The physics are a little off though.

London Clay

All those people who protest ... They protest against what ? In France, we have the "Gilets Jaunes", who also protest, there is also the young people who protest against climate change. They protest, and they go nowhere ...

The whole movement started with the proposal of an extradition bill by the government which allows anyone in Hong Kong deemed guilty by the Chinese government (note: HK is not China yet) to be extradited to China for trial, even foreigners. Needless to say, people protested because the Chinese judicial system is a total joke (if you don't agree with this, I'm not going to argue with you, but the whole comment would be meaningless).

People protested peacefully at first, but the government didn't give in and sent the police and triads to beat up citizens instead. Many things happened since then, mainly involving police brutality, misconduct, and collusion with triads and the Communist regime (like allegedly deploying Chinese police and the People's Liberation Army disguised as HK police). Therefore, now it has become a protest for 5 demands, namely:

1. Complete withdrawal of the said bill (now it has been "promised" by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but given the track record of her people will only believe it when they see it)

2. Revoke the riot definition of the protests

3. Release and cancel all the charges on people arrested for this movement

4. An independent commission to investigate police brutality and misconduct

5. True universal suffrage on both the CE and the legislative council

> an extradition bill by the government which allows anyone in Hong Kong deemed guilty by the Chinese government (note: HK is not China yet) to be extradited to China for trial, even foreigners.

AFAIK, China is just one of the countries that was included in the bill. Hong Kong has become "fugitives' paradise" because it is unable to legally send criminals to the original country for trial.

> Chinese judicial system is a total joke

Don't disagree with you :-)

> the government didn't give in and sent the police and triads to beat up citizens instead

Fake news here. The government sent police to control riots. The people that got beaten up were criminals. Some media called them protesters. Bloomberg called them demonstrators. The ones in the front are criminals. They wear masks for the same reason that bank robbers wear masks. It is illegal to carry guns in Hong Kong so an umbrella is not a bad weapon. When these criminals charged forward, the police had no option but to control the situation using force.

> police brutality, misconduct, and collusion with triads and the Communist regime

Just compare to any Western country. If the same kind of violence were to happen in the US, someone would have been killed by the police. I'm not sure about collusion with triad. As for collusion with the communist party, we have to remember that Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China. The Hong Kong government must work with China for any activity that may deem to be anti-government or challenge One-Country-Two-Systems. Collusion is the wrong choice of word here.

As for the 5 demands:

1. The extradition bill has been officially withdrawn.

2. This is impossible -- maybe it was possible in June but it's too late now given the violence.

3. This is impossible. It is also unreasonable because it would be a total dis-justice without going through the formal legal system.

4. There is already a system that citizen can make complaints against specific police behavior. It is also the wrong time to start any independent commission because the events are still unrolling.

5. It will take a long time to discuss again what made the "umbrella revolution" few years ago. The government seems open for discussions but if these so-called pro-democratic people cannot give in and resort to violent behavior then a "deal" can never been reached.

These recent events proved that some people in Hong Kong are indeed anti-government and their sole purpose is to tear down the One-Country-Two-Systems concept and make Hong Kong an independent country. By bad-mouthing the government and police, they are painting a picture that there is no other way but to separate itself from China. It includes certain media that is known to be biased -- Apple Daily News, The Stand News, and sometimes Radio Television Hong Kong (ironically, a government sponsored entity). They produce fake news by taking events out of context and fool everyone. IMO, these media and certain reporters are very unprofessional.

My 2 cents.

Regarding police brutality, I don't think it's fair to dismiss this as "fake news". Amnesty international, for example, have investigated and found plenty of problematic behaviour by the police: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/09/hong-kong-arb...

I don't agree that protestors are trying to tear down 1c2s. The issue seems to be that they dont trust China to stick to the agreement. Obviously if China won't honour their promises on 1c2s, independence becomes the only long-term solution.

Interesting. Your view, except for that towards Chinese judicial system, aligns perfectly with Carrie Lam. Literally everything she said about the movement is found here.

I'm providing views from the movement's supporters' side, and it's nice to have the ruler's side for others' reference as well.

So instead, they should just sit there nicely and be swallowed into the largest communist police state in the world, a country notoriously[0] less free than the current government[1]?

> They protest against what

I'm guessing it's pretty clear, HK is against being reincorporated into mainland. Gilet jaune seems to be against the direction of law making in current French government (namely, tax the rich less and the poor more). The "young people" for more actions against pollution.

> They protest, and they go nowhere ...

What do you suggest they do instead, if they are not fine with that? You're protesting against them on an online forum, this is so much better.

Protests have an actual effect on policy making[3], if only to rally people and express the vox populi, especially when said people doesn't have another to express itself than casting a general paper that gives a name, not an intent, into a box, with very long periodicity ; or don't have that luxury (e.g. Hong Kong in that case)

[0] https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/china

[1] https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/hong-kong

[2] https://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/dshoag/Documents/Political%20...

/edit: fixing a url/

Honestly, right now, the "unfairness of life" is the closest to a coherent message I can interpret from their "movement".

It was really a tense and passionate debate 2 months ago, but now many of us just roll our eyes at the latest news, like when they shave people who clean the streets, burn an MTR station, cry in a foreign country they need to be "freed", and the like...

Seems a little bit unfair not to mention the five demands in this context: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/13/what-do-the-ho...

If you really want to "interpret" the message of their movement, that would seem like a good place to start.

I’m actually surprised by how professional the police are acting.

The protesters are throwing Molotovs and yet no one has been killed.

After 2 months of riots, the police have been very reserved in there actions compared to other SWAT happy countries.

Is the message closer to “we reject the terms of the social contract that we’re being offered”?

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