Hong Kong Protesters Adopt Bridgefy amid Sophistication of Techniques

The Bridgefy App in Real Life 05/13/2021

Featured image credit: Studio Incendo (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters took their country by storm in 2019. They fought against a new law proposal that would have allowed extraditions to places where Hong Kong did not have extradition agreements, like mainland China.

The tactics they used impressed the world and have been the subject of scholarly debate and were replicated in other countries. One method that stands out? Hong Kong protesters adopted the Bridgefy App to escape potential Internet shutdowns.

The pro-democracy protesters knew they needed to eschew traditional communication means if they wanted to keep the uprising alive and themselves anonymous. After all, the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement, as the protests were also known, had already innovated in other ways. For example, activism went online; and protesters used laser pointers to distract the police, and umbrellas to avoid facial recognition.

Instead of relying on the Internet, Bridgefy uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth antenna to send messages within 330 feet or 100 meters. However, every phone acts as a link in an ever increasing chain of devices, known as a mesh-network. This allows the Bridgefy App to cover large areas by letting messages “hop” through other users’ phones until they reach the intended destination.

This way, protesters could stay connected without using a monitored network.Bridgefy App downloads in Hong Kong skyrocketed during the summer of 2019. They were up more than 3,000% in the months of July and August. Forbes even reached out to us to cover the role the Bridgefy App, powered by the Bridgefy SDK, played.

Bridgefy App downloads in Hong Kong, from July 30 to August 30, 2019. Graphic made with internal records.

Eventually, the government withdrew the proposed bill in October 2019. Protests did continue that year and throughout most of 2020 because the movement had four more demands, but they started to dwindle at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The techniques and methods protesters used in the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement showed the world there are still many more new and different ways to communicate during the times large amounts of people gather. This experience stands as another real-life example of the many situations in which Bridgefy can help people stay connected when they don’t (or can’t) have access to the Internet.

Sources:
Forbes.
Hong Kong Protestors Using Mesh Messaging App China Can’t Block: Usage Up 3685%.
Wikipedia. 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests.
Wikipedia. Tactics and methods surrounding the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests