13th June 2019 – (Hong Kong) As tens of thousands of protestors used Telegram’s encrypted messaging service as a main app for communication and information gathering, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov announced that the service went down after it was affected by a powerful DDoS attack for almost an hour. He immediately pointed his fingers at China as being the main culprit after the attack was traced to IP addresses in China.
The hackers apparently overloaded their server with traffic so that no one could use it.
Use of Telegram secret chat group as information control centre during the anti-extradition protest in Hong Kong
A 22 year old student, Ivan Ip, one of the administrators for a secret Telegram chat group called ‘公海總谷’ created for instructions and information to be shared amongst protestors was arrested on the night of 11th June by police at around 8pm. They obtained search warrant before going into his home. He was also requested to reveal all members of the Telegram group chat members, shared contents and information on other administrators and group creators. According to sources, Ivan claimed that he did not participate in the protest on 9th June but he merely shared updated information on the protest within the group chat.
He was then released on bail at 4am yesterday after being detained at Sheung Shui Police station. The Telegram chat group has since been deleted. According to sources, the members in the group reached 20,000-30,000.
In defiance, the organisers continued with their modus operandi using an alternative Telegram chat group called ‘SCOTT SCOUT’ consisting of almost 33,000 subscribers. An administrator of the group known as SCOTT was seen giving instructions to the subscribers and many of them were sharing multiple information on locations of riot police who were codenamed ‘DOGS’. Videos of injured protestors, photos of riot police were shared in split seconds in the group chat. Someone was also assigned to take and share aerial photos on the protest on a regular basis in the group to predict and plan the next moves. Information on first aid centres, collect points for essentials such as masks and gloves was also shared in the group.
At 7.46pm yesterday, a few of them suggested to temporarily abort the protest citing safety issue as a major concern. Scott, in one of his last messages sent at 7.48pm yesterday mentioned that he would continue to discuss with his ‘superiors’ because their support was waning. He even mentioned that they spent 24 hours to set up everything but the operation failed and advised everyone to take care of themselves. We reported at 8.02pm that the organisers had aborted their mission due to safety issues.
At 8.26pm, protestors were told to disperse into the crowd and retreat into Central where FREE GOGOVAN service would take them home. Someone even asked the protestor who sustained eye injury to identify himself in the group.
A hand drawn map used to strategise against the riot police was also shared in the Telegram group.