Blockchain helps Hong Kong Apple Daily bypass censorship

Sat 26 Jun 2021 ▪ 17h26 ▪ 3 min read — by Geoffrey Smith

Cyberactivists archived a Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily on ARWeave after the newspaper was forced to suspend its activities as it violated the national security law.

Collectively owned hard drive that never forgets

On 24th June, at midnight, Apple Daily shut off its website. That is why 21-year-old Ho – who works in tech and prefers to remain anonymous, decided to upload the newspaper’s articles to ARWeave (AR), “I’m not doing this because I love Apple Daily, it’s what needs to be done”, Ho told Reuters. “I never thought that Apple Daily would disappear so quickly”, he added.

The articles that Ho and his fellow activists uploaded to ARWeave are here to stay — and immune to government censorship. In 2020, ARWeave received support from such influential funds as Andreessen Horowitz, Union Squares Ventures and Coinbase Ventures, and now the project functions as a “collectively owned hard drive that never forgets” allowing “to remember and preserve valuable information, apps, and history indefinitely. By preserving history, it prevents others from rewriting it”, its official website claims.

According to its creators, this project ushers in an era of “Permaweb“, a permanent archive network with open and decentralised access. “No more 404s” is what ARWeave promises.

On Thursday, more than 4000 Apple Daily articles were uploaded to ARWeave, which is much more than a classic blockchain. It looks more like a “blockweave”: a set of blocks that contain data, linking to multiple previous blocks from the network, whereas classic blockchains, like Bitcoin, have their blocks linked in order, forming the famous “blockchain”.

There are other platforms that also offer their users to archive their web content, regardless of whether or not they want to bypass censorship. LikeCoin, a decentralised registry, allows Internet users to register their content on the blockchain. Its digital repository is still in beta, however, the project already offers plug-ins for Medium and WordPress. A pro-democracy media outlet Citizen News has also told Reuters it had been using LikeCoin to catalogue its images. ARWeave uses its native token, AR, valued at $10.44 as of Friday, 25th June.

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Geoffrey Smith avatar
Geoffrey Smith

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