How tech has fueled a ‘leaderless protest’ in Hong Kong

iStock(HONG KONG) — Residents of Hong Kong have convened on the streets in masses for months, demonstrating against Beijing’s dominance in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory they call home — what sets these uprisings apart from pro-democracy movements in the past, however, is that millions of citizens are armed with a stockpile of tech resources.

While pro-democracy protests have flared up in Hong Kong sporadically throughout its history, this most recent bout has carried on for months, and despite not having clear leadership, it has attracted crowds well into the millions. Some demonstrators say new technology, such as encrypted apps, has fueled this new kind of leaderless protest.

Online anonymity and end-to-end encryption is the key, protesters say, as some Hong Kong residents view the technology they use as a double-edged sword that offers a way for Big Brother on the mainland to get a glimpse at their digital lives.

Citizen X, an anonymous frontline protester who asked for his name to not be revealed, told ABC News that being anonymous online is crucial, because of the “terror that is being created” by Chinese authorities.

“We do not have any kind of trust in the police force in Hong Kong now,” he added. “And we do not have much trust in the judicial system of Hong Kong right now either.”

“The government is using the Public Order Ordinance, which is something that is left over from the colonial era,” Citizen X said. “They are very strict; they are very harsh, and they put the protester at a very disadvantaged situation.”

Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance imposes sweeping restrictions on the right to assembly with the goal of maintaining “public order.”

“That’s why if we want to continue our fights, if we want to continue to protect our city, we have to remain anonymous,” Citizen X said.

Craig Choy, a lawyer from Hong Kong who focuses on privacy and data protection laws, wrote a manual on how to use encrypted apps for the pro-democracy group after the Umbrella Movement in 2014. An updated version of the manual has been distributed to 2019’s demonstrators.

Choy told ABC News the way people organize and congregate for protests are through Telegram and Signal, which are messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption. Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app that boasts on its website that “messages are heavily encrypted and can self-destruct.”

In the past, pro-democracy demonstrators relied on now-outdated methods of “publications on Facebook” or “writing articles in the newspapers,” Choy said.

“But nowadays a lot of people are using messenger channels,” he said. “They are also using other kind of technologies to collaborate, to work together, to make it easier for them to communicate and consolidate and do their call to actions.”

Choy said he spent some time protesting in August and received directions and information through Telegram.

Another piece of technology heavily used by protesters is “the LIHKG forum, which is something like Reddit in the U.S.,” Choy said. “A lot of people are using it to discuss political ideas; there are lots of discussions there about where they will move, what they will do next.”

“People are just throwing out their own ideas. The difference is that everyone is anonymous, people will not judge you whether you are a person with a high position in society or whether you are young or rich,” he said. “I think because of that a lot of young people can voice their opinion without the baggage of, ‘I’m not high-ranking enough in society.'”

“It’s very open,” Choy said. “For example the protest in the airport, it didn’t really get a lot of support, they thought it was a nuisance to visitors to Hong Kong, that’s where they formulated the idea to apologize.”

Choy also said Apple’s Airdrop technology, which allows users to send text, pictures or information through Bluetooth, is being used to spread news to people who may otherwise not receive it through mass airdrops in public places.

“It’s a very efficient way to spread information about the protests,” Choy said. “It’s also because the older generation they just turn on their Bluetooth without knowing it.”

Political activist Glacier Kwong, 23, who has also spent time protesting on the streets in Hong Kong, said technology had played a “vital role throughout the movement.”

The online platforms that are being used to organize mean that there are “many facilitators of the movement,” and citizens can “organize themselves without revealing their identity.”

In addition to the organizing component, technology is a significant help on the front lines of a protest, Kwong said, where people can be updated with “instant news” about “where is safe, where is not.”

Citing the 2014 Umbrella Movement, Kwong said one of the biggest issues for protesters then was that “not everyone agrees with the ‘main organizers’ and there are a lot of debates and conflicts.”

“But this time, because technology enables us to get rid of leaders, everyone can do whatever they see fit,” she said. “And it is also harder for the government to deter people from participating.”

“Because no matter who they arrest, there are no leaders,” she added. “Hence, the others can still organize themselves.”
Online anonymity is crucial because ‘retaliation on the protesters are very severe’

As Citizen X said, anonymity is vital for those who choose to protest because it can mean risking their livelihoods.

“Technology is being used against protestors for sure,” Kwong said. “It is highly suspected that Hong Kong-ers data are being collected and send to China as there are no regulations governing data transmission.”

Choy added that the same tools they use could be later used to “expose the identities of some people,” Choy said. “I think that it’s very important because you can also see that retaliation on the protesters are very severe.”

Some people “have been fired” from their jobs because their online activity was reported, Choy said. This is why many protesters are wearing masks, goggles and helmets.

Another way people protect their identity is by using code words such as meeting for a “picnic” when they congregate.

One common term is “dreamwalking,” Choy said. “Whenever they go for a protest they will say, ‘I am going for a dream.'”

“People are very cautious about what they are saying online now,” he said. “They don’t want direct evidence that can be collected by Hong Kong police online.”

Kwong said she sees online anonymity as “necessary for the advancement of human rights” because it “allows individuals to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly online.”
As tech is being used as a tool, companies like Apple are being dragged in the middle

Apple recently was accused by critics of bowing to pressure from China after it removed a police-tracking app, HKMap.live, from the App Store. Apple defended its decision in a statement saying it has learned that the app “has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.”

“The app displays police locations, and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement,” the statement added. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws, and we have removed it from the App Store.”

While the app lives on in a web server and on Android devices, Choy said he believes Apple’s decision will have a “chilling effect” on other app developers and companies who support Hong Kong.

“A lot of these companies nowadays are facing pressure from China,” Choy said. “The technology is neutral. By itself, it’s not evil or good, it’s how people use it that matters.”

Moreover, Choy said Apple’s move to delete the app is “actually putting the protesters in a very dangerous position.”

“Lots of people nowadays, they use that app to know where the police officers are, especially in Hong Kong police brutality is very serious now, and none of them wear the badges and lots of protesters are going on the street and risking their lives,” he said. “Even though they are facing police brutality, they have no way to complain.”

“A not very brave protester like me would need this app so that I could locate a police officer, so I could get out of this dangerous scene,” Choy said.

Apple taking a stand like this will cause other app developers to “think second thoughts” about what kind of apps they make, Choy said, and if they want to stand with Hong Kong.

Citizen X said Apple’s decision shows that no one is immune to China’s threats.

“As we see in recent years, the Chinese rise in power in economic perspective, power in a political perspective, it is constantly exerting influence over other countries, over international community and so on,” he said. “That’s why we see Apple has to succumb to the threat of the Chinese government and the Chinese authority to impose some restriction on the application on the Apple store.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

Suit up with your favorite Marvel heroes in ‘Avengers: Damage Control’ virtual reality experience

Marvel Studios/ILMxLAB(NEW YORK) — The Void, the company behind stunning virtual reality experiences, is letting fans be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its latest adventure: Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Damage Control

The full trailer for the experience created by ILMxLAB has just been released online.

Like its predecessor, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Damage Control uses a virtual reality helmet and other sensors to drop patrons right in the middle of a fully-immersive, movie-quality adventure.

Instead of the Stormtrooper gear from Secrets of the Empire, Damage Control players will find themselves wearing Iron Man armor retrofitted by Wakandan tech genius Shuri, again played by Black Panther and Avengers movie star Letitia Wright.

The trailer also features the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly; they reprise their respective roles as Doctor Strange, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp, all of whom fight alongside you against James Spader’s robotic menace, Ultron.

Also glimpsed in the trailer are Sam Wilson/Falcon, James Rhodes/War Machine, and Hulk, but it’s not apparent yet whether they’re also voiced by their real-life counterparts Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle and Mark Ruffalo.

The Void virtual reality experiences are located throughout the U.S., Canada, and in Malaysia.  Visit TheVoid.com for locations.

Marvel Studios and Star Wars are properties of Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

“You are in the presence of Angels”: New ‘Charlie’s Angels’ trailer teases the “group of exceptional women”

© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. (NEW YORK) —  The new trailer for the Charlie’s Angels reboot shows no shortage of stunts, sass, and sisterhood.

The promotional clip for the movie, directed and co-written by Elizabeth Banks, who also co-stars, shows a duo of female spies, played by Ella Balinska and Kristen Stewart showing the ropes to a new recruit, played by Aladdin’s Naomi Scott.

The Angels — dubbed “a covert group of exceptional women” — have gone global, with multiple teams tackling dangerous assignments all over the world. Banks, Patrick Stewart, Sam Claflin and Djimon Hounsou will play the Angels’ handlers, all of whom are named “Bosley,” as in the original TV show and the first two films.

Amid speeding super cars, spycraft and sexy cover outfits, Scott says of her sister spies, “The best part isn’t taking down international criminals. It’s you guys.”

The first Charlie’s Angels reboot in 2000, and its 2003 sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.

The new Charlie’s Angels hits theaters November 15.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

San Diego Padres pitcher allegedly breaks into home via doggy door, gets kicked, tased: Police

kali9/iStock(PEORIA, Ariz.) — San Diego Padres pitcher Jacob Nix has been arrested after allegedly trespassing on a man’s property by breaking in through the doggy door of his home.

Peoria police in Arizona responded to a call regarding a reported trespasser on Sunday morning around 3:30 a.m., according to ABC’s Phoenix affiliate station KNXV.

The homeowner allegedly discovered a man, who police would later identify as the 23-year-old San Diego Padres pitcher, crawling through his doggy door, confronted him and kicked him once in the face.

Another man who was outside, 23-year-old Thomas Cosgrove, who was also drafted by the Padres, then reached through the doggy door and pulled Nix out of the house, according to police.

However, as the pair began to flee the house, the homeowner reached through the doggy door and shot Nix in the back with a taser, according to court records obtained by KNXV.

The two men managed to flee the scene but only made it a few streets away before police picked them up and arrested them. They have both been charged with criminal trespassing.

The San Diego Padres released a statement regarding the arrests of Nix and Cosgrove.

“We are aware of the alleged incident involving Jacob Nix last Sunday in Arizona. We take this matter seriously and have been in contact with the Commissioner’s office and local authorities. Due to the ongoing legal proceedings, we will not have any further comment at this time,” it said.

Nix pitched in nine games for the Padres in 2018 but was injured for most of the 2019 season. Cosgrove was drafted by the Padres in 2017 and has been pitching in their minor league system ever since.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

‘Jungle Cruise’: Check out Dwayne Johnson & Emily Blunt in the trailer to the new Disney adventure flick

Disney(LOS ANGELES) — Disney has just revealed the first trailer for Jungle Cruise, the action adventure based on its classic park ride of the same name.

For the theme park attraction’s big-screen bow, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a questionable, late 19th-century riverboat captain who takes Emily Blunt’s scientist character and her brother to a dangerous part of the Amazon in search for a the legendary Tree of Life.

“10 thousand to bring you there alive. Dead’s 15 thousand,” Johnson’s character Frank states.

“Why should I pay more dead?” She asks.

“Dead, I’d have to carry you. Dead’s a lot harder, lady,” Johnson retorts.

The movie also stars Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons and Paul Giamatti.

Jungle Cruise opens in theaters on July 24, 2020 from Disney, parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

Thousands of US troops deploying to Saudi Arabia: Pentagon

MivPiv/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The United States is deploying thousands of additional U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Iran’s attack on Saudi oil facilities in September, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The deployment includes fighter squadrons, early detection aircraft, and air defense systems.

“[Defense] Secretary Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia,” said Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman in a statement on Friday. “Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month.”

The U.S. is sending two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot Batteries, and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) to Saudi Arabia. The air expeditionary wing can be comprised of tankers, fighters, surveillance and reconnaissance, and the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), a U.S. official tells ABC News.

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has been in the Gulf region since May and is expected to depart later this year. The carrier will likely to not be replaced because the USS Harry S. Truman remains in Norfolk, Virginia for unscheduled repairs to its electrical systems.

The new aircraft deployment is not meant to make up for the potential lack of a U.S. carrier in the region but is intended to back fill the squadrons of aircraft the U.S. sent to the region earlier this summer after Iran carried out a series of attacks on commercial shipping and downed an American drone. The squadrons sent during that time were not originally scheduled to be replaced.

“Since May, the Department of Defense has increased the number of forces by approximately 14,000 to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as an investment into regional security,” Hoffman said. “As we have stated, the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region.”

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019

Manchester stabbings: police arrest suspect on suspicion of ‘terrorism offenses’

BrianAJackson/iStock(LONDON) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of “terrorism offenses” after a man with a knife stabbed three people in a busy shopping center in Manchester, England.

The suspect, a man in his 40s, has been arrested in connection with the multiple stabbings at the Arndale Center on Friday morning. Video footage circulated on social media showed the purported suspect being arrested by police officers armed with stun guns. He was initially arrested at the scene on suspicion of “serious assault,” although the incident is now suspected to be terror-related.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson told reporters that the man had been arrested on “suspicion of terrorism offenses” but they do not believe there is a wider threat at this time, describing the incident as an “awful attack.”

“Specialist officers are continuing to respond to an incident at the Arndale shopping centre in #Manchester city centre,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement. “In these early stages we are keeping an open mind about the motivation of this terrible incident and the circumstances as we know them. Given the location of the incident and its nature officers from Counter Terrorism Police North West are leading the investigation as we determine the circumstances. A man in his 40s – who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of serious assault – remains in custody for questioning.”

In total five people were injured in the attack, with two women and a man are being treated in hospital with stab wounds. The condition of the two women being treated with “stab injuries” is described as “stable,” while the man is being treated with “stab wounds,” police said. A fourth woman, who was not stabbed, was treated by paramedics on the scene, and was deemed to not require hospital treatment.

Police are now appealing for footage and images of the incident on social media.

The investigation is looking into “what the man said” during the incident to determine whether the stabbings were terror-related, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his “shock” and praised the response of the emergency services in the aftermath of the attack.

“Shocked by the incident in Manchester and my thoughts are with the injured and all those affected,” he said in a tweet. “Thank you to our excellent emergency services who responded and who are now investigating what happened.”

Earlier this year a police officer was among three people stabbed on New Year’s Eve in Manchester, England, in what authorities investigated as a “terrorist incident.” The city was also the site of a suicide bombing at at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017, which left 22 killed and 59 injured.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Oct 2019