As the Hong Kong protests continue, the Hong Kong police are now seeking to know the identities of individuals who are spreading protest information using social media apps. One such app which the authorities want to crack is encrypted messaging app Telegram.
According to sources for The Epoch Times, the Telegram app is being used by protest leaders to plan demonstrations, initiate crowdfunding efforts, as well as spread information about the police action.
One of the app's channels, called “dadfindboy” has been sharing information about officers. The Telegram channel was reported to have more than 202,000 subscribers, but it has since been suspended.
Similarly, another channel named “tanakayotsuba” which is described as a “hotline for scoops” was also accused of releasing personal information of police officers and even their relatives.
This made the Hong Kong Police pressure Telegram to give them access to the personal data of its users so that they can find out who owns the two channels. The authorities even sought the help of cyber experts outside of Hong Kong to hack the Telegram app.
The Telegram has not issued any comments about this issue and hasn't complied. But experts know for a fact that the app can provide end-to-end encryption and it would be impossible for Telegram to be able to share private messages of its users.
“No message sent on Telegram can be deciphered by your ISP or other third parties because all messages are encrypted. Cloud chats (all chats except for Secret Chats) use client-server encryption. Secret Chats use end-to-end encryption. Neither method can be deciphered while in transit,” a Telegram representative said to to Reclaim The Net.
Even if the Hong Kong police can find somebody to crack down on the Telegram app, this would be an illegal action that is considered to be a criminal offense, a lawyer from the Hong Kong University said. “Hacking … could be a criminal offense,” Simon Young said.