China's proposed law limiting AirDrop and Bluetooth after protesters used Apple's iPhone to organize there. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
June 9 (UPI) -- The Chinese government moved to shut down the ability of protesters and anti-government forces to use networks like Bluetooth and AirDrop to plan and share messages with new proposed legislation.
The proposal by the Cyberspace Administration of China would force "close-range mesh network services" to prevent what is deemed to be harmful and illegal information, keep files of such information, and report it to authorities.
The draft, released by the CAC, the country's leading web watchdog, places limits on all file transfer services that rely on Wi-fi, Bluetooth, and other information technologies "to form networks instantly and communicate to other devices over a short range."
Providers would also be required to offer data and technical assistance to internet regulators, the police and other authorities, while users would be mandated to register their real names when using the services.
Apple drew the attention of the Chinese government after some protesters there used airdrop to get around its surveillance and get out messages that criticized the regime, sending them to the public. The method also proved to be a rare untraceable way protesters could share files in China.
Responding to government complaints, Apple had limited the use of AirDrop on its iPhones in China to allow users to only receive files from people who were not registered as contacts for 10 minutes at a time.
Apple owns one-fifth of China's mobile device market because of the iPhone and about half of the market in Hong Kong. Hong Kong, a former British colony, was rocked by widespread anti-government protests in 2019-2020.
Google's Android and Chinese communications companies like Xiaomi and Oppo would also fall under the new proposed rules for having compatible technology.