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Apple limits AirDrop in China to reduce protest usage

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After protesters in China exploited the wireless file-sharing tool to disseminate messages critical of the Chinese government covertly, Apple has restricted the usage of AirDrop on iPhones.

Chinese owners of iPhones will only be able to use the feature to receive files from strangers for 10 minutes after updating to iOS 16.1.1, which was released on Wednesday.

The option to accept files from “everyone” had no time restriction in the past. According to Chinese media, the gadget will revert to just accepting files from contacts after 10 minutes.

A new restriction on AirDrop has been added to Apple’s iOS 16.1.1 update and the most recent iOS 16.2 developer beta – if someone in China owns the iPhone. It is now only possible to AirDrop materials to the iPhone for 10 minutes, as opposed to the typical “Everyone” permission.

Apple hasn’t spoken out publicly about the modification or announced it. However, as Bloomberg notes, the modification will affect demonstrators.

If AirDrop is left set to “Everyone,” anyone who passes by can transfer files to an iPhone, which will, at the very least, indicate that something is being transmitted. The content is delivered to the user through this unrestricted peer-to-peer sharing function, and the user can choose whether to access it.

The adjustment was made after people used AirDrop to distribute anti-CCP pamphlets in crowded public areas after a man displayed posters calling for the ouster of “dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping” and an end to China’s zero-Covid policy on a bridge in Beijing last month.

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