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Mexican App Bridgefy Booms After Myanmar Military Coup

By MBN Staff | Wed, 02/03/2021 - 11:17

Amid a state of emergency declared by the army following a military coup, Mexico's offline messaging app Bridgefy has been downloaded more than a million times in Myanmar over the past 48 hours. On Monday, after the army arrested democratically elected leaders, phone and internet connections were disrupted in the Asian country’s main cities, Aljazeera reported. 

“Internet connectivity in #Myanmar has fallen to 50 percent of ordinary levels as of 8:00 a.m. local time amid an apparent military coup and the detention of civilian leaders. Pattern of disruption indicates a centrally issued telecoms blackout order,” Netblocks, an internet monitoring service, tweeted on Jan. 31. After internet connection was cut off, people in Myanmar looked for other means like Bridgefy to stay connected. The platform had already become popular during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and anti-government demonstrations in Thailand as it could be used with Bluetooth, allowing users to communicate without an internet connection.

Bridgefy operates on a mesh network in which mobile phones can send and receive information over a range of up to 100m. However, it can also use the devices as a bridge to extend the range by creating a peer-to-peer (P2P) communication network. “We are grateful to share that the Bridgefy App was downloaded more than 600,000 times in #Myanmar today, in just a few hours. Hopefully, people will find it helpful during tough times,” the app tweeted on Monday.

But concerns about whether messages can be intercepted have arisen. Bridgefy said, however, it has improved its security procedures and encrypted direct messages between users over time, so it is not possible to intercept them due to its top-notch encryption. 

Yet this has not always been the case. Before 2020, the app founded in 2014 by Jorge Ríos, was criticized for its policies in terms of privacy and security. “No part of the Bridgefy app is encrypted now. The protocol we were using was ok but was not safe enough, so we removed it. In the following weeks, we will be releasing a new version that will be encrypted with top security protocols,” Bridgefy tweeted in June last year.


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