We are hoping for the best but would like to prepare for the worst, so I'd like to ask fellow HNers here who have been in similar situations before: what can we expect to encounter in terms of disruptions in communications? Under those situations, how can we counter them with technology? There were rumors that cell towers in certain areas would be shut down, which I don't think happened. The cell network slowdown was more like overloaded cell towers to me. We tried Firechat yesterday and it's terrible. With 100s of people on the same room, it's impossible to follow the feed. It's also very easy to be taken over by CCP spies who just won't stop polluting the room. Is there anything you'd recommend?
Thanks HNers in advance.
Updated resources on the situations on the ground:
Apps like Bambuser allow live streaming but also leak details like GPS coordinates if not careful about what settings are turned on. If you end up getting shot at, you don't want to lead aggressors right to you.
Malicious people will get users to spread malware, state entities like intel agencies just as well as thieves. People will be looking for 'things' that work, be aware of these 'things' be it a VPN or chat app.
You will be monitored via ISP level hardware like activists were in Syria via BlueCoat equipment. Encryption is your friend for anything outside of very public channels. Try to coordinate outside of the most public channels before broadcasting plans widely.
Moderation of chat as you mentioned is key, consider setting up chat channels in places that can be moderated like IRC. Having a wide assortment of moderators is good for eyes on the problem, but focus on technical problems like flooders instead of political/social. All but the most aggressive trolls can simply be ignored, they will flame out if not fed.
Overall depending on centralized communications is a problem, internet can and will be cut if deemed a problem. Walkie-talkies and other independent devices can help keep crowds coordinated. But really police and intel agencies are in love with the data mobile/internet networks yield. Expect IMSI catchers and other nefarious hardware sniffing communications.
edit: Many I knew from Syria no longer exist, don't get shot. That disrupts communications permanently.
I need help building an android version and fixing/auditing the current code. If that sounds interesting please get in touch :)
Tech solutions won't work if they put you inside the Great Firewall, and force you to use MITMed HTTPS certs (blocking anything that looks like HTTPS). That last step is unlikely (since blocking or MITMing HTTPS would really hurt Hong Kong), but an alternative (a sneaker net) would be good to have, and render technical attacks less effective (so they might not even bother).
I'm absolutely fucking horrified at the gwailo response to this. Looking at dozens of folks who I'd ordinarily think as level headed raging on social media against the "children" protesting.
Idiots. Do they really think that their western business interests will be neatly protected by a hand-selected Beijing puppet? I just can't understand why people who would directly benefit from a more democratic process in HK would be vehemently, bitterly opposed to those fighting for their rights.
That said, these people were all still at HKIS/etc. in '97, and don't really have a concept of "before".
It's not anonymous or mass group like Firechat, so you can tune in to trust-worthy sources of information and keep track of your friends or people you meet at the protest.
Does not use GPS to identify your location, and all traffic is encrypted over the wire. Does require a network connection, though.
Disclaimer: I'm co-founder of Lynk and was at the protests in HK last night. Happy to answer any questions for anybody interested in the tool.
edit: anyone in Hong Kong right now and interested in getting in touch, my email is in my profile
it's quite strange that the blocking turns a political event into a technical one.
I'm not a 100% supporter for the protest, but I extremely dislike the government's passion of blocking everying. it makes me feel hopeless in the country knowing more and more interesting things are becoming far away from us.
Then again, I think that's pretty much what they did with pictures from the Taipei student protests earlier this year...
(Edit: Whoops, duplicate of a sibling post :) )
They actually got some "celebrators" standing in front of the protesters claiming everybody is having a party.
This is a picture of a separate celebration event from the 26th (Friday). It's part of the celebration events leading up to 1st Oct.
I lived in Beijing from 2004 to 2006, and during my time there a bunch of websites became blocked, including Wikipedia. It drove me nuts.
By the way - there is a great democratic potential in play: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201105/how...
There are many forms of citizen-participatory government possible. A republic for instance (what you meant when you said democracy?) can have houses formed in a variety of ways to insure minorities are heard.
For those who want a TLDR: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/28/6856663/hong-kong-democracy-pro...
Lot of protesters are just TEENAGERS/STUDENTS who want a peaceful protest , and the crazy police are fully armed and used countless tear gas on them.
This is going to be one of the largest events in HK history.
The police must have taken a page from the Ferguson, MO playbook... Or maybe just Occupy Wall St....
Maybe I'm suffering from confirmation bias, but it seems all the major demonstrations in the last few decades (Tiananmen Square, Iraq War, Occupy Wall Street, post-Iranian election, etc) have sizzled out and failed. The one exception I can think of is the anti-Proposition 8 protests, but Prop 8 was defeated in the courts through routine legal channels (ultimately culminating in the Supreme Court decision on Hollingsworth v. Perry) and it's unclear whether the protests held any sway over the rulings.
The protests in Ferguson, MO are still playing out so it's hard to say what exactly the effects will be, but I suspect not nothing.
In Hong Kong protests in 2003 helped stop the passage of a security law restricting activity that the mainland Chinese government doesn't like (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_1_July_marches). More recently protests helped prevent a "moral education" bill from being passed here also.
In general I think it's a bit shortsighted to look at protest movements and think they're ineffective because many of them do not produce change. Protests are (generally) a way for people without a lot of political power to have their voices heard. They're going to fail a lot of the time, because protest movements start when people don't have other kinds of leverage or power.
Also, I think it's important to remember that at least part of the goal of a protest movement is getting attention. The Occupy Wall Street protests didn't directly change much, but they did create a national (and international) conversation about equality that didn't really exist before. It's a lot harder to evaluate that kind of indirect result, but I think it would be a mistake to discount it. (The OWS protests also spurred the creation of Occupy Central, one of the organizations that's leading these protests in Hong Kong.)
It is continuing to force the local police to a higher standards of accountability and transparency then they would have done without. Additionally, this along with the recent national attention to other unarmed black men being shot by cops, has played a huge role in getting police officers equipped with dashboard and body-mounted cameras.
That's pretty cool.
A complaint about Occupy Wall Street is there was not much unity. There seems to be unity & respect among the groups now.
Pretty pathetic, that because there are so may things that Occupy were complaining about, then they should just be ignored. (The real message was that people want a fairer more just system. I managed to get that, why did none of the critics work that out).
The most worrying phenomenon, which I think you allure to, is protests with no clear intended goals which act as a massively confused way to defuse anger. It's like if we need volume for our fundamentally egocentric revolutions and this is why ideology is less of a bonding element in a range of protests lately. Or like crowdsourcing loud proclamations of the least common denominator.
So rationally, I don't think it's a good move by the pan-democrats, as it essentially shuts down any possibilities of negotiation - the pan-democrats have very little leverage now that they've already "done their worst".
On the other hand, protests are not about strategy and rationality. People strongly believe in their ideals and they want to do something rather than sit around waiting for negotiations that may or may not happen. I can understand that which is why I'm not as quick to criticize the protesters as many in HK would.
Yesterday's events is triggered by Beijing's "ruling" for Hong Kong's 2017 elections. While citizens would be allowed to vote for the chief executive, the candidates for the election would have to be approved by a largely Beijing controlled nominating committee. Beijing's plan is obviously non-democratic, and it is no different than a categorical rejection of all demands made by previous Hong Kong democracy movements.
It is fair to say that the large-scale non-violent civil disobedience movements in last few days and very likely in coming weeks are the result of failing to negotiate, which I think the government with the power should take the responsibility. Since the economic and diplomatic situation of China today is very different than that of 1989, it is not likely that the government could repeat what it has done before. Reopening the negotiation is not something unimaginable IMO.
Second, do you really think there's no democratic mechanisms at all in China? The communist party still needs to chose leaders from within itself...
And I'd argue that it's better to know one is under a dictatorship than to think one is free whilst being oppressed...
Finally, things in China aren't that bad, especially considering the past. Things are changing there, always for the better, I wouldn't be surprised if they're democratic by 2020. But it has to be at their pace, on their terms. Look how they embraced capitalism...
Do you think any amount of protests in the US would change anything at all? The protesters would be arrested, beaten, then charged with crimes and convicted by corrupt judges, and the whole memory of the affair would be swiftly swept under the rug by the mainstream media, who would be pressured by various government agencies to forget about it...
Protests don't change a damn thing in western countries, because the whole illusion is propagated by idiots who buy into the government propaganda. What did Occupy Wall Street change? Not a damn thing. Ferguson? Again, nothing.
Wrong, it's much less democratic because it isn't just (A) which names are preprinted on the ballot or (B) candidates likely to be elected. No, you literally cannot make a valid choice beyond those pre-approved by Beijing.
> Protests don't change a damn thing in western countries
You're telling me that every single change to the US since ~1870 has been from something other than protests?
And do you get any choice other than those approved by the Dems or GOP? What do you know about the vetting process of those two parties? How about third parties?
> You're telling me that every single change to the US since ~1870 has been from something other than protests?
How about changes in the last 3 decades? Once upon a time you had a semblance of a democracy, not so much lately...
how many of them ended with gunshots?
Negotiation: The truth is, HK politics is very much like American politics. It consists of people blocking any progress on anything because the two sides are so deeply divided. Instead, I suggest making an honest effort to negotiate and take things step by step. For example, the central issue to the protests - the universal suffrage framework described in the Basic Law is strictly better than the current system. Accepting it while signaling that something even better is desired and will continue to be brought up would have been more productive. (Note that the whitepaper came out after the threat to occupy central).
Economy - One of the subtexts of the whole issue is Hong Kong's decreasing relevance in relation to China and indeed on the world stage. The stronger HK is, the more leverage HK has. Instead, real wages are barely increasing, rent continues to skyrocket, and there is basically no economy besides finance - and in that HK's competitive advantage shrinks every year. Instead of saying things like "we are willing to sacrifice the economy if it gives us true democracy", I think it should be accepted that destroying the economy is not likely going to get democrats what they want, and that a better economy would a) free up more people to be able to worry about politics rather than just putting food on the table, and b) make China think harder about killing the golden goose.
Occupy Wallstreet was a game of brinksmanship, but unfortunately that only works when both sides have something to lose. China has nothing to lose today.
Economy: I in general agree but let's not forget most of China depends on the banks in Hong Kong for lending. There's a lot of capital at stake here.
* Top industry leaders like the Foxconn boss are deep blue, the blue side has VERY deep pockets
* The Taiwanese media is heading towards a pro-China monopoly, see these protests in 2012: http://www.thechinastory.org/2012/12/the-anti-media-monopoly...
* Write something critical about China and you might realise that gangsters are also pro-unification: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/1066...
(during recent student protests in Taiwan, a high-profile pro-China gangster also tried to intimidate participants)
* and last but not least, I got the impression that the Taiwanese public is completely tired of the whole pro/contra China conflict and would much rather look at cat pictures or try to fix their income gap.
I was shocked when I was changing planes in the PRC with Taiwanese friends and they did not know that the internet there is censored. Can you imagine that, in a country that is semi-doomed to be annexed by neighbouring China?
Much better to read the linked Independent piece: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hong-kong-prote...
The live stream has been covering the whole protest and also shows recaps (picture in picture). Jimmy Lai, who has been seen protesting in a poncho and goggles, owns a media empire in Hong Kong, including the Apple Daily newspaper which runs this YouTube channel.
From a tech perspective, they've been running without interruption and they even used a drone, I think a helicopter, to take footage swooping over and around the protestors and police.
This would also be an ideal scenario for PirateBox. I roll the LibraryBox version on a regular basis for under $20.
I can see why people are protesting: partly its the want to stay independent, partly it's fear of the steadily increasingly mainland presence - not just in government, but people. Regular HK'ers are studying Mandarin (very different from their more historically significant and representative dialect, Cantonese) and aiming to do mainland business.
My main observation would be: heard about it from foreigners, got bugger-all details from purely foreign media, saw no mention in mainland media (which, to be fair, I rarely see). So just to confirm: there is zero coverage in the mainland, and not much elsewhere as far as I've seen.
Anyway: good luck Hong Kong, you have a really unique situation in which you can exercise your rights. Make it worthwhile.
I don't think China will involve the PLA in this; that would cause a huge scare internationally. Instead, they'll just let the HK police deal with it (and they seem to be hard enough). The HK elite basically run the territory and are incredibly friendly to the central government.
My guess is that they will handle this in a very non-public way (no surprise there!) working through the HK authorities. It will be brutal, but the CCP knows what a heavy hand will get them (Tiananmen Square).
The CCP has been doing very good at creating class conflicts and isolating enemies.
FYI, there is a Chinese military base in HK since 1997. So seeing that is not even news. It's a norm.
the drinkbottle? Passed through last week and didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
A protest led by teenagers? Where are the adults? If these teenagers were devised, where are their parents? Do they have any idea whom they are fighting against, fighting for?
Shame on all HK adults.
...in case people forget about the clean up needed in their own backyard first.
Protesters are quick to talk this up as the next Tiananmen Square when in fact looking at the ground it's nothing like it.
You just need to look at Hong Kong culture to see that this is being overblown. It's the HK style, there's no middle ground, it's either the end of the world or nothing worth mentioning.
Of course the people have a right to protest but people should really think about what they are doing instead of getting delusional in the name of "freedom".
Show some class for once, have a measured response not this circus that is clearly going to end in a terrible car crash. It's already being hijacked by troublemakers.
Unfortunately results are really discouraging.
It's going to be epic.
Hongkongers and other people around the world, don't care about the USA. We don't feel the need to use USA as a benchmark when discussing issues in our own countries.
According to this pic: http://www.popo8.com/host/data/201409/28/3/f864d6c.jpg, this Occupy Central is a show.
Protests are shows. That's why they call them demonstrations.
And given signs are for informing people outside the protest, it is no surprise that folk will write an English one if they know there will be an English speaking news crew around.
I'm a programmer and I have proposed a straight forward rule to help me understand the situation. If you have a better way, show me. If what you are saying is any protest should be supported unconditionally, and any means to attract media attention is legit, then go to Iraq and join ISIS' protest.