A masked protester sits near graffiti during a protest in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that protesters are banned from wearing masks to conceal their identities in a hardening of the government's stance against the 4-month-old demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

For Hong Kong protesters, masks shield against Big Brother

October 04, 2019 - 8:20 pm

HONG KONG (AP) — The now-banned masks Hong Kong protesters use to conceal their identities are a consequence of living in the shadow of Big Brother.

Across the border that separates Hong Kong from the rest of China, high-tech surveillance is ubiquitous, with facial recognition, forests of cameras, and other privacy-penetrating tools.

Becoming a tightly controlled city like all the others in China, its special freedoms extinguished, is the future that protesters say they're fighting to avoid for Hong Kong.

Many of them have turned to using code words when messaging each about when and where they'll next meet. Instead of "protest," they'll write "shopping" or "dreaming" to disguise their intentions.

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