Hong Kong Media Turns to Blockchain to Preserve Protest Archives

By Adriana Hamacher

LikeCoin, a decentralized publishing infrastructure on the Cosmos blockchain, is being used to preserve media coverage of the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

As Quartz reported, people began backing up key episodes of the city’s current affairs program, Hong Kong Connection, earlier this month. The award-winning show is the property of public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong. The broadcaster announced in May that it would erase archive content over a year old; it has increasingly fallen under government influence.

One episode, “7.21 Who Owns The Truth,” reported an attack against protesters and civilians, which helped raise awareness of Hong Kong police tactics. It has been preserved using Likecoin.

Hong Kong protests’ unique identifier

Likecoin was launched in beta during the Hong Kong protests in November 2019, and an official launch is planned in the summer, but local independent news is already using the service. Quartz reports that Stand News and Citizen News have turned to LikeCoin to catalog their content.

The infrastructure houses the metadata of the content in question—details include its title, author, date, location, and attaches a digital “fingerprint” of sorts called an International Standard Content Number (ISCN.)

This catalogs the metadata similarly to a unique International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which identifies books. The ISCN flags any changes to the content, such as deleted or re-edited frames.

Meanwhile, the actual content is housed on the InterPlanetary File System, a decentralized network for storing files, footage, applications, and pretty much anything else.

This isn’t the first time decentralization has been used to aid Hong Kong’s protest movement, which was intentionally leaderless so that organizers could evade detection.

Battles have been fought, not only on the city’s streets but digitally—on the messaging apps installed on the laptops and mobiles of hundreds of thousands of protestors.

And now, the digital evidence has a way of being secured, validated, and made readily available in perpetuity.