According to the Beijing government, a state-supported Chinese institute has discovered a method to trace the senders of any content through Apple’s AirDrop. Allegedly, the institution has successfully decoded the feature to unearth the email addresses and phone numbers of individuals sending AirDrop messages in an effort to combat “undesirable content,” as reported by Bloomberg.
The police have utilized this AirDrop breakthrough to identify multiple suspects. However, the Beijing Judicial Bureau has not disclosed whether any arrests have been made as a consequence. The bureau asserts that this approach enhances the efficiency and accuracy of solving cases, aiming to prevent the dissemination of inappropriate remarks and potential negative influences.
Individuals owning a Mac, iPhone, or iPad can conveniently use AirDrop to share various items such as photos, videos, documents, contacts, and passwords with nearby Apple devices. Notably, protesters in Hong Kong utilized AirDrop during the 2019 demonstrations to disseminate pro-democracy slogans. Despite Apple promoting AirDrop’s security through Transport Layer Security encryption, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice alleges that an institute has discovered a method to bypass this encryption.
In response to the misuse of AirDrop by protesters sharing anti-government messages in 2019, Apple implemented a new restriction for AirDrop in China in 2022. This limitation imposed a 10-minute duration for users to receive files or messages via AirDrop from non-contacts, replacing the previous unrestricted timeframe. Subsequently, Apple extended this time limit to all iPhone users, ostensibly as a measure to reduce spam in crowded areas.