Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hacking Toward Freedom…


Tech folklore claims that the Internet routes information around obstacles, even a nuclear holocaust. As we've seen from ongoing and recent events in ChinaEgyptLibya and elsewhere, including the United States, this ain't necessarily so. Humans engineered the Internet, and the forces of repression can always install devices to spy on Internet users, and even hit a "kill switch" to cut off access to all or part of their populations as they please.

But, here's an article from the Economist magazine. It describes how rebels can build tools out of bubble gum and bailing wire to preserve their access to and from the 'Net, despite the efforts of tyrants to silence them and stop their ability to organize and make trouble for the powers that be. Any means of transport, whether for bullion or bytes, email or electrons, can be hijacked by clever people. That microwave oven (tech first repurposed from military radar to cook crappy meals) on your kitchen counter might someday be a tool for democracy as potent as the printing press was in the American colonies of the Eighteenth  Century. Organizations such as Tactical Tech and the Tor Project supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation can show you how.


1 comment:

  1. Another thought… about 236 years ago, colonial rebels in Boston and Philadelphia palmed notes to each other on busy streets, sharing what they knew of British plans among their spies, right under the Redcoat's gaze. Our founders fired a King in so doing.

    In the Soviet Union, handwritten manuscripts and mimeographed texts melted away the foundation from under generations of tyrants, as the rebels followed a path pioneered by the men that then cruelly dominated them after they fired their own King sans even a telegraph and precious few printing presses. After that, in Iran, another King had been toppled with letters and audio cassettes.

    That came after kids and their mothers fired two American Presidents, depressive lunatics with atom bombs, with nothing more than music, raggedy text, and making a fine nuisance of themselves. High tech in the service of freedom is all good… but, it is the folks on the street that must claim that freedom.