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What breakthrough method have Chinese authorities developed to monitor AirDrop?

Chinese authorities have found a way to monitor messages sent via Apple's AirDrop, aiming to control content, impacting Apple's operations in China.

Written By: Vishal Upadhyay New Delhi Updated on: January 10, 2024 13:09 IST
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Image Source : APPLE Representational Image

Apple's New Challenge in China: In a recent development, it's been reported that a government-backed organisation in China has found a way to detect people using Apple's AirDrop feature. The Beijing institution claims to have created a method to bypass iPhone encryption, allowing them to identify individuals' phone numbers and email addresses using AirDrop.

According to the city's judicial bureau, this method has improved the efficiency and accuracy of solving cases, aiming to prevent the spread of inappropriate remarks and potential negative influences. While law enforcement has identified suspects using this technique, it's unclear whether any arrests have been made.

Activists' Tool and Impact on Apple

According to the Mint, the announcement brings attention to the AirDrop feature, which activists globally have used to share messages. During the Hong Kong protests 2019, demonstrators utilised it for exchanging pro-democracy slogans due to its close-range Bluetooth connection requirement.

Considered a "technological breakthrough," this method aligns with China's efforts to control the content it deems undesirable, adding a layer of uncertainty to Apple's operations in a country where the company already faces content restrictions, extending to platforms like Apple TV and Books.

Apple's Challenges in China

Since 2022, Apple has restricted AirDrop in China following its use by protesters. The company is also grappling with sales challenges, experiencing a 30 per cent drop in iPhone sales in the first week of 2024. Analysts attribute this decline to growing competition from domestic rivals like Huawei, impacting Apple's overall market share in China.

Overall Smartphone Shipments Drop

Reportedly, this decline in Apple's sales contributed to a double-digit drop in China's smartphone shipments for the year's first week. In contrast, other Android brands and Huawei maintained relatively flat growth during this period, indicating a competitive landscape shift in China's smartphone market.

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