Hong Kong protesters side step censors with mesh networks

Unless you've been living under a rock recently, you're likely aware of the massive protests taking place in Hong Kong. What you might be less aware of is the effort being put in to keeping afloat despite censorship efforts: the protestors have started using mesh networks to get around attempts to shut them down.

FireChat has been used in some protests in the past, but has seen its first massive-scale use during the Hong Kong protests, with users taking advantage of the service to get around blocked and overloaded networks. It works in much the same way a protest does — every device becomes a little piece of the overall network, and the more devices near each other using it, the stronger the network grows.

The Central region of Hong Kong has remained full despite police attempts to prod the protesters away, including violent measures like tear gas. Umbrellas have had an iconic presence in the protest, earning it the term the Umbrella Revolution. In light of its failed efforts, the Chinese government has taken to censoring media outlets.

Weibo and Instagram have both already been blocked, and concerns have turned towards the ceullar networks and Internet access at large being affected. That won't have as much of an effect as intended, however, thanks to FireChat and the proliferation that has already taken place — the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times in a 24 hour period in Hong Kong.

SOURCE: Extreme Tech