How Angola's Hackers are Accessing the Web Through Zero-Rated Services

I remember listening to a Medium engineer speak at a conference about one of the strange hacks on the website last year: people would use specific hashtags to upload illegally obtained videos (films without rights, for example) on to Medium, so that others interested in it could find and watch them. The problem for them was that Medium's team used the same mechanism to identify and take down those videos. 

I was reminded of that when I read this Vice story on how Angolans are circumventing the restrictions imposed on them by the likes of Facebook and Wikipedia when it comes to internet access through their zero-rated services (restricted access was of course the same reason India rejected Facebook's Free Basics recently). This is how it went down in Angola:

Because the data is completely free, Angolans are hiding large files in Wikipedia articles on the Portuguese Wikipedia site (Angola is a former Portuguese colony)—sometimes concealing movies in JPEG or PDF files. They’re then using a Facebook group to direct people to those files, creating a robust, completely free file sharing network. 

This isn't completely new of course; as the article says Cuba gets music, videos and movies smuggled into the country on USB sticks almost every week, and a 20 year-old developer in Paraguay found a way to exploit Facebook Messenger, which was allowed on Free Basics, to access the whole web. 

A fascinating read. 

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