According to a person with direct knowledge of the effort, Telegram will allow all users in Hong Kong to hide their telephone number to hong kong safeguard against monitoring by Chinese authorities.
By using the Telegram new update which will be released over the next few days, protesters will be able to block Chinese authorities from discovering their identities in the app’s large group chats.
According to the report which routers found earlier this month, Currently, thousands of Hong Kong protesters are taking their cues from more than 100 groups on Telegram and using this application to mobilize swiftly through multiple group chats, with less risk of police infiltration.
Protesters are using these Telegram groups to post everything from news on upcoming protests to tips on dousing tear gas canisters fired by the police to the identities of suspected undercover police and the access codes to buildings in Hong Kong where protesters can hide.
Protesters are worried that Chinese authorities will be able to use the movement’s reliance on Telegram to monitor and arrest organizers.
According to a group of Hong Kong engineers who posted their findings on an online forum earlier this month, there is a feature in Telegram design that may allow Chinese authorities to discover the real identities of users.
This group also announced that currently telegram is allowing users to search for other users by using their phone numbers and this function will allow a new user to quickly discover whether those in her phone’s contact book are already using the app.
Protesters believe that Chinese security officials have used this function by uploading large quantities of phone numbers.
Telegram application automatically matches phone numbers with the user names in the group. In order to discover the users’ identities, Chinese authorities need to request the owners of the phone numbers from the local telecom service.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation mentioned that Telegram has detected some evidence that Chinese authorities may have uploaded numbers to identify protesters.
Telegram is trying to fix this function that allows users to disable matching by phone number.
According to the source, Telegram is trying to help the Hong Kong protesters with this update.
This source also mentioned that “But wide adoption of the optional security setting would make the app far harder to use for the vast majority of its more than 200 consumers, who rely on uploading phone contacts to identify friends and family members on the app”.
Telegram is supporting these protesters as Hong Kong police arrested a number of prominent activists and three lawmakers on Friday. Three months ago around 900 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam mentioned that the government would consider using “all laws” to prevent violence.