Telegram has been a valuable tool for Hong Kong protesters standing up to mainland China

Telegram has been particularly important in sharing news, information and organizing without giving away individual identities.


Recent mass protest in China's administrative region of Hong Kong over a draft extradition law has highlighted the use of end-to-end encryption. Telegram is being seen as a driving factor in these protests.

The issue that caused the protests had to do with the possibility of the law being adopted that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to the mainland – and according to the article, millions showed their discontent by rallying against the proposal.

BeInCrypto said that social media platforms overall have been of great help in organizing the Hong Kong protests – but singled out Telegram as gathering around it an anonymous community with no apparent leaders, “comprised of hundreds of thousands of individual groups.”

The report says that Hong Kong protesters have used Telegram to proliferate videos and other content that did not make it past the Chinese censors.

Furthermore, BeInCrypto said that Telegram had been “banned in China since 2015, and Russia and Iran since last year.” So how did Hong Kong protesters manage to use it? The article states that “Hong Kong supporters in China” find their ways around the ban – while those in Hong Kong itself came under a large-scale cyberattack that the website attributed to Chinese authorities. However, the outage was only temporary.

As for Telegram – founded by Pavel Durov, of Russia's Facebook clone VK fame, who has since fallen out with his country's authorities and resides abroad – the report mentions that “personal Telegram conversations are encrypted” – while the app “doesn't support end-to-end encryption for its group chats.”

And when a Telegram chat room organizer got arrested in Hong Kong earlier in August the local police “implied that they were able to find him through his mobile number, which was linked to his identity.”

The arrest led to the chat group “beefing up their security measures, encouraging the use of anonymous, pay-as-you-go SIM cards and using foreign numbers to register for new accounts.”

And as a go-to tool for “activists and journalists” to share their efforts on the internet, Telegram has also recently been validated by “journalists in Ukraine” choosing the app as their preferred online method of information dissemination.

As for Telegram's link to the cryptocurrency scene – BeInCrypto report mentions that the company in 2018 organized an ICO (initial coin offering) raising “$850 million to develop the proposed Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain.”

In June this year, other reports mentioned that Telegram – considered to be a favorite in the crypto community – had a highly “hyped” ICO the previous year and was now, at last, offering its tokens to retail investors.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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