Apple limits use of AirDrop on iPhones in China after file-sharing feature was used by protesters | China
Apple has limited file-sharing features on iPhones in China, after a month of reports that anti-government protesters are using the function to share digital posts with strangers.
Under the update on AirDrop function released on Thursday, iPhone users China It can only opt in to receive files from non-contacts within a 10-minute window before it turns off automatically. The feature had no time limit previously.
The update makes it virtually impossible to receive unexpected files from strangers.
The change follows widespread reports of people using AirDrop to spread leaflets critical of the Chinese Communist Party in crowded public spaces, inspired in part by a protest in Beijing where a man hung banners calling for the impeachment of the president, Xi Jinping.
Chinese monitors quickly removed videos and online posts referring to the protest, while hundreds of users’ accounts were banned on the popular payment and chat app WeChat after speaking out about the rare act of rebellion.
Apple declined an AFP request for comment, but it is now understood that the company plans to roll out the feature worldwide.
Apple phones sold outside mainland China on Thursday appear to be unaffected by the update, while iPhones sold in China display the limit regardless of which country a user’s App Store account is in.
The description told users that the update “includes bug fixes and security updates.”
The California-based tech giant, which touts security and privacy protection as key features of its devices, has faced criticism before for Alleged concessions to Beijing.
Western observers view China as becoming increasingly repressive as Xi begins his third term as the country’s most powerful figure.
“This is a small sample of the kind of cost in China… which makes China less attractive as an investment and manufacturing destination for many global multinationals and many global companies,” said Isaac Stone Fish, CEO of Strategy Risks.
“Apple has to understand the very real risks of overexposure to China in 2022,” he added.
Other obvious concessions included opening a data center in China, as well Remove an app in 2019 which allowed pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong to track police.
Apple has also faced threats of boycotts in China as it stands in the crossfire of US-China tensions, with Beijing warning in 2020 that it could turn its citizens against the company if Washington bans Chinese apps.
Some social media users in China on Thursday hailed the iPhone update as a positive step in preventing unwanted messages from strangers. One Weibo user said the change will “dramatically reduce the likelihood of iPhone users being harassed.”
Few people wondered why the job was only posted on Chinese iPhones, with one Weibo commenter joking about Apple CEO, Tim Cook’s friendship with Beijing: “So is Tim Cook a party member or not?”
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