Chinese authorities said they had found a solution to identify users of AirDrop, an encrypted service on phones.Camel“In principle, it allows content to be shared anonymously with another nearby device of the same brand,” according to an Agence France-Presse report.
The Chinese authorities are already closely monitoring the media and the Internet, and are censoring any content that they believe may show the country's policies in a negative light, or that could spark unrest.
To escape censorship, iPhones could have created a loophole through the “Air Drop” function, which works without the need to connect to the Internet. This feature, in particular, made it possible to broadcast slogans criticizing the ruling Communist Party on phones, after a rare demonstration in Beijing in October 2022, according to the report.
Apple, which has China as a major market, has taken steps to restrict the feature there.
According to the report, the judicial authorities in Beijing Municipality confirmed on Monday that a local institute was able to break AirDrop's encryption.
This step ends the ability to obscure the identity of users, and allows, according to the authorities, to determine the transmitter number and its owner’s phone number, as well as his email address.
The report says that AFP was unable to independently verify these allegations.
The statement issued by the authorities did not specify whether this technology had led to arrests or convictions for sharing illegal content.
All iPhones sold in China since 2022 automatically deactivate the AirDrop option after 10 minutes. This procedure significantly reduces the possibility of receiving files unexpectedly from strangers, thus exchanging sensitive messages without supervision.
Since then, this restriction has been expanded to include Apple devices in the rest of the world.
Apple's products, from iPhone to iPad, are very popular in China and are one of the American group's main markets outside the United States.
The Apple brand has always refrained from taking a position on sensitive topics or disturbing the Chinese authorities. The company's CEO has been received several times by senior officials, such as the head of state.
In 2019, Apple found itself in the crosshairs of the official press because it allowed an application in Hong Kong that allows the police to be located on a map, and this service was criticized, while Hong Kong was witnessing huge pro-democracy demonstrations.