FireChat, a messaging app that circumvents the Internet by piggybacking on bluetooth mobile phone connections, has been downloaded over 100,000 times by people in Hong Kong. FireChat is said to be foiling China’s attempts to stop Hong Kong protesters from communicating. The P2P (peer-to-peer) app is a last resort for people in Hong Kong who have had their Internet connections shut down.
According to commenters on Reddit, the current version of FireChat doesn’t allow for encryption–it’s something its developers, Open Garden, are working on. But as one redditor says, when it comes to Hong Kong “Unencrypted communication is better than none at all.” That idea was quickly refuted with comments like: “That depends — unencrypted communication can easily be spoofed and forged, allowing someone to hijack your communications and make you think that your friend said something they actually didn’t say.”