P2P Emergency Mesh Communications Technologies

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A variety of projects which deploy collaborative device connection to support communications in challenged regions and disaster situations. Our teams have built, patented, deployed and delivered some of the first, and leading, peer to peer technology in the world. Some of our team technology has saved many, many lives.

PHYSICS: Any device that can see an electromagnetic signal can often also send an electromagnetic signal. Many devices, today, can send and receive many types of electromagnetic signals, on the same device, some concurrently. This approach turns each device (ie: your smartphone or gamebox)  into its own broadcasting, reception and relay station. This technology needs no servers, towers or infrastructure to operate. Signals can range from audio, radio, light, IR, UV, vibration, laser, reflection, GPS interrupts, induction,  and other modifications of the I/O capabilities of the device.

USES:  To support communications in challenged regions and disaster situations and to delivery HD media in the most cost-effective/lowest G&A manner

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Related Past Projects:

Our team developed, engineered, produced, patented and marketed the software suite that has become one of the leading solutions sets in the intelligence, defense and emergency services arenas globally with over $300 Million invested in it’s production and deployment. One of the packages was distributed by Apple Computer with marketing personally accelerated by Steve Jobs in support of the Tsunami disaster. Other versions of the software have been used in refugee zones globally. When an illegal copycat version of our software failed in one region (Putting lives at risk), our authorized version kept on working. Our architecture has been proven to be unstoppable – against all odds. The full version STILL has yet to be hacked, in the field, by any known technology. It is STILL the least network- congestive, lowest-cost infrastructure, most ultra-secure, network solution in the world! A copy of the Movie: BIRTH OF A NATION was placed in the network flow out on the open web, using the technology, with a phrase imprinted across the center of the image. A $250,000.00 reward was offered to anyone who could provide a fully reassembled copy of the film with the imprinted image and certification headers intact. To this day: Nobody has been able to acquire that film sample off of the web, and reassemble it; proving the strength of the technology. 
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U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors

By JAMES GLANZ and JOHN MARKOFF

 
Photo

Volunteers have built a wireless Internet around Jalalabad, Afghanistan, from off-the-shelf electronics and ordinary materials. Credit Keith Berkoben/Fab Folk

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.

Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.

Related Coverage

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

The effort has picked up momentum since the government of President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Egyptian Internet in the last days of his rule. In recent days, the Syrian government also temporarily disabled much of that country’s Internet, which had helped protesters mobilize.

The Obama administration’s initiative is in one sense a new front in a longstanding diplomatic push to defend free speech and nurture democracy. For decades, the United States has sent radio broadcasts into autocratic countries through Voice of America and other means. More recently, Washington has supported the development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught.

But the latest initiative depends on creating entirely separate pathways for communication. It has brought together an improbable alliance of diplomats and military engineers, young programmers and dissidents from at least a dozen countries, many of whom variously describe the new approach as more audacious and clever and, yes, cooler.

Sometimes the State Department is simply taking advantage of enterprising dissidents who have found ways to get around government censorship. American diplomats are meeting with operatives who have been burying Chinese cellphones in the hills near the border with North Korea, where they can be dug up and used to make furtive calls, according to interviews and the diplomatic cables.

The new initiatives have found a champion in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose department is spearheading the American effort. “We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and seek to realize their aspirations,” Mrs. Clinton said in an e-mail response to a query on the topic. “There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports,” she said. “So we’re focused on helping them do that, on helping them talk to each other, to their communities, to their governments and to the world.”

Developers caution that independent networks come with downsides: repressive governments could use surveillance to pinpoint and arrest activists who use the technology or simply catch them bringing hardware across the border. But others believe that the risks are outweighed by the potential impact. “We’re going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil,” said Sascha Meinrath, who is leading the “Internet in a suitcase” project as director of the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.

“The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people’s fundamental human right to communicate,” Mr. Meinrath added.

The Invisible Web

In an anonymous office building on L Street in Washington, four unlikely State Department contractors sat around a table. Josh King, sporting multiple ear piercings and a studded leather wristband, taught himself programming while working as a barista. Thomas Gideon was an accomplished hacker. Dan Meredith, a bicycle polo enthusiast, helped companies protect their digital secrets.

Then there was Mr. Meinrath, wearing a tie as the dean of the group at age 37. He has a master’s degree in psychology and helped set up wireless networks in underserved communities in Detroit and Philadelphia.

The group’s suitcase project will rely on a version of “mesh network” technology, which can transform devices like cellphones or personal computers to create an invisible wireless web without a centralized hub. In other words, a voice, picture or e-mail message could hop directly between the modified wireless devices — each one acting as a mini cell “tower” and phone — and bypass the official network.

Mr. Meinrath said that the suitcase would include small wireless antennas, which could increase the area of coverage; a laptop to administer the system; thumb drives and CDs to spread the software to more devices and encrypt the communications; and other components like Ethernet cables.

The project will also rely on the innovations of independent Internet and telecommunications developers.

“The cool thing in this political context is that you cannot easily control it,” said Aaron Kaplan, an Austrian cybersecurity expert whose work will be used in the suitcase project. Mr. Kaplan has set up a functioning mesh network in Vienna and says related systems have operated in Venezuela, Indonesia and elsewhere.

Mr. Meinrath said his team was focused on fitting the system into the bland-looking suitcase and making it simple to implement — by, say, using “pictograms” in the how-to manual.

In addition to the Obama administration’s initiatives, there are almost a dozen independent ventures that also aim to make it possible for unskilled users to employ existing devices like laptops or smartphones to build a wireless network. One mesh network was created around Jalalabad, Afghanistan, as early as five years ago, using technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Creating simple lines of communication outside official ones is crucial, said Collin Anderson, a 26-year-old liberation-technology researcher from North Dakota who specializes in Iran, where the government all but shut down the Internet during protests in 2009. The slowdown made most “circumvention” technologies — the software legerdemain that helps dissidents sneak data along the state-controlled networks — nearly useless, he said.

“No matter how much circumvention the protesters use, if the government slows the network down to a crawl, you can’t upload YouTube videos or Facebook postings,” Mr. Anderson said. “They need alternative ways of sharing information or alternative ways of getting it out of the country.”

That need is so urgent, citizens are finding their own ways to set up rudimentary networks. Mehdi Yahyanejad, an Iranian expatriate and technology developer who co-founded a popular Persian-language Web site, estimates that nearly half the people who visit the site from inside Iran share files using Bluetooth — which is best known in the West for running wireless headsets and the like. In more closed societies, however, Bluetooth is used to discreetly beam information — a video, an electronic business card — directly from one cellphone to another.

Mr. Yahyanejad said he and his research colleagues were also slated to receive State Department financing for a project that would modify Bluetooth so that a file containing, say, a video of a protester being beaten, could automatically jump from phone to phone within a “trusted network” of citizens. The system would be more limited than the suitcase but would only require the software modification on ordinary phones.

By the end of 2011, the State Department will have spent some $70 million on circumvention efforts and related technologies, according to department figures.

Mrs. Clinton has made Internet freedom into a signature cause. But the State Department has carefully framed its support as promoting free speech and human rights for their own sake, not as a policy aimed at destabilizing autocratic governments.

That distinction is difficult to maintain, said Clay Shirky, an assistant professor at New York University who studies the Internet and social media. “You can’t say, ‘All we want is for people to speak their minds, not bring down autocratic regimes’ — they’re the same thing,” Mr. Shirky said.

He added that the United States could expose itself to charges of hypocrisy if the State Department maintained its support, tacit or otherwise, for autocratic governments running countries like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain while deploying technology that was likely to undermine them.

Shadow Cellphone System

In February 2009, Richard C. Holbrooke and Lt. Gen. John R. Allen were taking a helicopter tour over southern Afghanistan and getting a panoramic view of the cellphone towers dotting the remote countryside, according to two officials on the flight. By then, millions of Afghans were using cellphones, compared with a few thousand after the 2001 invasion. Towers built by private companies had sprung up across the country. The United States had promoted the network as a way to cultivate good will and encourage local businesses in a country that in other ways looked as if it had not changed much in centuries.

There was just one problem, General Allen told Mr. Holbrooke, who only weeks before had been appointed special envoy to the region. With a combination of threats to phone company officials and attacks on the towers, the Taliban was able to shut down the main network in the countryside virtually at will. Local residents report that the networks are often out from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m., presumably to enable the Taliban to carry out operations without being reported to security forces.

The Pentagon and State Department were soon collaborating on the project to build a “shadow” cellphone system in a country where repressive forces exert control over the official network.

Details of the network, which the military named the Palisades project, are scarce, but current and former military and civilian officials said it relied in part on cell towers placed on protected American bases. A large tower on the Kandahar air base serves as a base station or data collection point for the network, officials said.

A senior United States official said the towers were close to being up and running in the south and described the effort as a kind of 911 system that would be available to anyone with a cellphone.

By shutting down cellphone service, the Taliban had found a potent strategic tool in its asymmetric battle with American and Afghan security forces.

The United States is widely understood to use cellphone networks in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries for intelligence gathering. And the ability to silence the network was also a powerful reminder to the local populace that the Taliban retained control over some of the most vital organs of the nation.

When asked about the system, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, would only confirm the existence of a project to create what he called an “expeditionary cellular communication service” in Afghanistan. He said the project was being carried out in collaboration with the Afghan government in order to “restore 24/7 cellular access.”

“As of yet the program is not fully operational, so it would be premature to go into details,” Colonel Dorrian said.

Colonel Dorrian declined to release cost figures. Estimates by United States military and civilian officials ranged widely, from $50 million to $250 million. A senior official said that Afghan officials, who anticipate taking over American bases when troops pull out, have insisted on an elaborate system. “The Afghans wanted the Cadillac plan, which is pretty expensive,” the official said.

Broad Subversive Effort

In May 2009, a North Korean defector named Kim met with officials at the American Consulate in Shenyang, a Chinese city about 120 miles from North Korea, according to a diplomatic cable. Officials wanted to know how Mr. Kim, who was active in smuggling others out of the country, communicated across the border. “Kim would not go into much detail,” the cable says, but did mention the burying of Chinese cellphones “on hillsides for people to dig up at night.” Mr. Kim said Dandong, China, and the surrounding Jilin Province “were natural gathering points for cross-border cellphone communication and for meeting sources.” The cellphones are able to pick up signals from towers in China, said Libby Liu, head of Radio Free Asia, the United States-financed broadcaster, who confirmed their existence and said her organization uses the calls to collect information for broadcasts as well.

The effort, in what is perhaps the world’s most closed nation, suggests just how many independent actors are involved in the subversive efforts. From the activist geeks on L Street in Washington to the military engineers in Afghanistan, the global appeal of the technology hints at the craving for open communication.

In a chat with a Times reporter via Facebook, Malik Ibrahim Sahad, the son of Libyan dissidents who largely grew up in suburban Virginia, said he was tapping into the Internet using a commercial satellite connection in Benghazi. “Internet is in dire need here. The people are cut off in that respect,” wrote Mr. Sahad, who had never been to Libya before the uprising and is now working in support of rebel authorities. Even so, he said, “I don’t think this revolution could have taken place without the existence of the World Wide Web.”

Correction: June 19, 2011

Because of a production error, a map last Sunday with the continuation of an article about efforts to circumvent Internet censorship by governments around the world misidentified the level of government control of the Internet in Taiwan. Because Taiwan was not included in a survey by the OpenNet Initiative that was the basis for the map, it should have been shaded gray, indicating that no data was available; not gold, which indicated pervasive government filtering of the Internet. (“No data” did not necessarily indicate that the government did not filter content.)

Reporting was contributed by Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Andrew W. Lehren from New York, and Alissa J. Rubin and Sangar Rahimi from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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INTRODUCING FIRECHAT:

GET IT ON IOS STORES and at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.opengarden.firechat  
 
 

The internet-free messaging app that’s sweeping the world

App uses P2P combination of Bluetooth and WiFi
 
           
It’s not, it’s a messaging app for iOS. We already have Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Snapchat etc, what makes FireChat different? You can chat “off the grid”, even if there is no internet connection or mobile phone coverage. How is that possible? Instead of relying on a central server, it is based on peer-to-peer “mesh networking” and connects to nearby phones using Bluetooth and WiFi, with connectivity increasing as more people use it in an area.  Firechat lets you talk anonymously Where might this be useful? According to FireChat, “on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even travelling abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there.” Seriously though. In Hong Kong mostly, where pro-democracy protesters are using it to communicate amid fears of network shutdowns. It’s also been used by Iraqis and Taiwanese students during their anti-Beijing Sunflower Movement. Aside from not being reliant on the internet (which some governments restrict), it is more clandestine and less traceable.  You can also join group conversations How popular is FireChat? Over 100,000 people downloaded it in 24 hours in Hong Kong over the weekend, with the CEO saying that numbers are “booming” and up to 33,000 people were using the app at the same time.
CNN NEWS:

21rst Century Protesting: HONG KONG! Lasers, Video Projectors, Drones, P2P, coded-hashcodes, Mass-mouthing – GEEK VS. GEEK CYBERWAR!

– Lasers, Video Projectors, Drones, P2P, coded-hashcodes, Mass-mouthing – GEEK VS. GEEK CYBERWAR! – Lasers write messages on buildings and project animations – Pocket video projectors show digital posters and movies on sides of buildings – Protestor’s drones monitor crowd safety – Entire New INTERNET, built by Democracy Protestors, does not use any corporate back-bone infrastructure. – Complex codes on Twitter and in TEXT messages have hidden meanings – Blinking laser dots on buildings use MORSE CODE – Arm Signals and hand signals use visual message relay – LINK TO THIS PAGE:  http://www.thenewsdaily.org/?p=9608   Hong Kong protesters in cyberwar
By Jeff Yang
 

A pro-democracy protester holds on to a barrier as he and others defend a barricade from attacks by rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Saturday, October 4. A pro-democracy protester holds on to a barrier as he and others defend a barricade from attacks by rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on Saturday, October 4.

Pro-democracy student protesters pin a man to the ground after an assault during a scuffle with local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong on October 4. Friction persisted between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets, and police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators. Pro-democracy student protesters pin a man to the ground after an assault during a scuffle with local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong on October 4. Friction persisted between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their weeklong occupation of major Hong Kong streets, and police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators.

Pro-democracy protesters raise their arms in a sign of nonviolence as they protect a barricade from rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on October 4. Pro-democracy protesters raise their arms in a sign of nonviolence as they protect a barricade from rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on October 4.
A pro-Beijing activist holds up blue ribbons for anti-Occupy Central protestors to collect as pro-government speeches are made in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong on October 4.
A pro-Beijing activist holds up blue ribbons for anti-Occupy Central protestors to collect as pro-government speeches are made in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong on October 4.
A man sits in front of a barricade built by pro-democracy protesters on October 4 in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong. A man sits in front of a barricade built by pro-democracy protesters on October 4 in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong.
Thousands of pro-democracy activists attend a rally on the streets near the government headquarters on October 4 in Hong Kong. Thousands of pro-democracy activists attend a rally on the streets near the government headquarters on October 4 in Hong Kong.
Police raise hands against protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong on Friday, October 3. Police raise hands against protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong on Friday, October 3.
A protester tries to negotiate with angry residents trying to remove barricades blocking streets in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay on October 3. Large crowds opposed to the pro-democracy movement gathered to clear the area. A protester tries to negotiate with angry residents trying to remove barricades blocking streets in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay on October 3. Large crowds opposed to the pro-democracy movement gathered to clear the area.
Pro-democracy demonstrators protect a barricade from "anti-Occupy" crowds in Hong Kong on October 3. Pro-democracy demonstrators protect a barricade from “anti-Occupy” crowds in Hong Kong on October 3.
A man shouts at a pro-democracy demonstrator on October 3. A man shouts at a pro-democracy demonstrator on October 3.
Police try to pry a man from a fence guarded by pro-democracy demonstrators on October 3. Police try to pry a man from a fence guarded by pro-democracy demonstrators on October 3.
Pro-democracy demonstrators sleep on the street outside a government complex in Hong Kong on Thursday, October 2. Pro-democracy demonstrators sleep on the street outside a government complex in Hong Kong on Thursday, October 2.
As the sun rises, a protester reads during a sit-in blocking the entrance to the chief executive's office on October 2. Demonstrators are angry at China's decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to run in the city's elections for chief executive in 2017. As the sun rises, a protester reads during a sit-in blocking the entrance to the chief executive’s office on October 2. Demonstrators are angry at China’s decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to run in the city’s elections for chief executive in 2017.
Yellow ribbons, a symbol of the protests in Hong Kong, are tied to a fence as police and security officers stand guard at the government headquarters on October 2. Yellow ribbons, a symbol of the protests in Hong Kong, are tied to a fence as police and security officers stand guard at the government headquarters on October 2.
Protesters confront police outside the government complex in Hong Kong on October 2. Protesters confront police outside the government complex in Hong Kong on October 2.
Protesters camp out in a street in Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 1. Protesters camp out in a street in Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 1.
Founder of the student pro-democracy group Scholarism, Joshua Wong, center, stands in silent protest with supporters at the flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong on October 1. Founder of the student pro-democracy group Scholarism, Joshua Wong, center, stands in silent protest with supporters at the flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong on October 1.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive C.Y. Leung attends a flag raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China on October 1. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive C.Y. Leung attends a flag raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China on October 1.
A pro-democracy activist shouts slogans on a street near the government headquarters on Wednesday, October 1. A pro-democracy activist shouts slogans on a street near the government headquarters on Wednesday, October 1.
Hong Kong police stand guard outside the flag-raising ceremony October 1. Hong Kong police stand guard outside the flag-raising ceremony October 1.
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a third night in Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 30. Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a third night in Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 30.
Protesters sing songs and wave their cell phones in the air after a massive thunderstorm passed over the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30. Protesters sing songs and wave their cell phones in the air after a massive thunderstorm passed over the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30.
Protesters take part in a rally on a street outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30. Protesters take part in a rally on a street outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30.
Student activists rest on a road in Hong Kong on September 30, near the government headquarters where pro-democracy activists have gathered. Student activists rest on a road in Hong Kong on September 30, near the government headquarters where pro-democracy activists have gathered.
A pro-democracy demonstrator guards a bus covered with messages of support in Hong Kong on September 30. A pro-democracy demonstrator guards a bus covered with messages of support in Hong Kong on September 30.
Protesters sleep on the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex at sunrise on September 30. Protesters sleep on the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex at sunrise on September 30.
Protesters hold up their cell phones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the Legislative Council headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday, September 29. Protesters hold up their cell phones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the Legislative Council headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday, September 29.
Protesters put on goggles and wrap themselves in plastic on September 29 after hearing a rumor that police were coming with tear gas. Protesters put on goggles and wrap themselves in plastic on September 29 after hearing a rumor that police were coming with tear gas.
Police officers stand off with protesters next to the Hong Kong police headquarters on September 29. Police officers stand off with protesters next to the Hong Kong police headquarters on September 29.
A man helps protesters use a makeshift ladder to climb over concrete street barricades on September 29. A man helps protesters use a makeshift ladder to climb over concrete street barricades on September 29.
Riot police fire tear gas on student protesters occupying streets around government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29. Riot police fire tear gas on student protesters occupying streets around government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29.
Police officers rest after protests on September 29. Police officers rest after protests on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters argue with a man, left, who opposes the occupation of Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29. Pro-democracy protesters argue with a man, left, who opposes the occupation of Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters sit in a road as they face off with local police on September 29. Pro-democracy protesters sit in a road as they face off with local police on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters rest around empty buses as they block Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29. Multiple bus routes have been suspended or diverted. Pro-democracy protesters rest around empty buses as they block Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29. Multiple bus routes have been suspended or diverted.
Police walk down a stairwell as demonstrators gather outside government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29. Police walk down a stairwell as demonstrators gather outside government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29.
Stacks of umbrellas are ready for protesters to use as shields against pepper spray on September 29. Stacks of umbrellas are ready for protesters to use as shields against pepper spray on September 29.
Protesters turn the Chinese flag upside-down on September 29 outside a commercial building near the main Occupy Central protest area in Hong Kong. Protesters turn the Chinese flag upside-down on September 29 outside a commercial building near the main Occupy Central protest area in Hong Kong.
Protesters occupy a main road in the Central district of Hong Kong after riot police used tear gas against them on Sunday, September 28. Protesters occupy a main road in the Central district of Hong Kong after riot police used tear gas against them on Sunday, September 28.
Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired during a protest on September 28. There is an "optimal amount of police officers dispersed" around the scene, a Hong Kong police representative said. Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired during a protest on September 28. There is an “optimal amount of police officers dispersed” around the scene, a Hong Kong police representative said.
Police use pepper spray and tear gas against demonstrators September 28. The protests, which have seen thousands of students in their teens and 20s take to the streets, swelled in size over the weekend. Police use pepper spray and tear gas against demonstrators September 28. The protests, which have seen thousands of students in their teens and 20s take to the streets, swelled in size over the weekend.
Riot police clash with protesters on September 28. Riot police clash with protesters on September 28.
Police and protesters clash during a tense standoff with thousands of student demonstrators, recently joined by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, on September 28. Police and protesters clash during a tense standoff with thousands of student demonstrators, recently joined by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, on September 28.
Benny Tai, center, founder of the Occupy Central movement, raises a fist after announcing the group would join the students during a demonstration outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28. Benny Tai, center, founder of the Occupy Central movement, raises a fist after announcing the group would join the students during a demonstration outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28.
Pro-democracy activist and former legislator Martin Lee wears goggles and a mask to protect against pepper spray on September 28. Pro-democracy activist and former legislator Martin Lee wears goggles and a mask to protect against pepper spray on September 28.
A pro-democracy activist shouts at police officers behind a fence with yellow ribbons on September 28. A pro-democracy activist shouts at police officers behind a fence with yellow ribbons on September 28.
A sign for the Hong Kong central government offices has been crossed out with red tape by democracy activists on September 28. A sign for the Hong Kong central government offices has been crossed out with red tape by democracy activists on September 28.
Pro-democracy protesters gather near government headquarters on September 29. Pro-democracy protesters gather near government headquarters on September 29.
Protesters gather during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Counsel on September 28 as calls for Beijing to grant the city universal suffrage grow louder and more fractious. Protesters gather during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Counsel on September 28 as calls for Beijing to grant the city universal suffrage grow louder and more fractious.
Protesters tie up barricades on September 28 during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Protesters tie up barricades on September 28 during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong.
An injured protester is tended to after clashing with riot police outside Hong Kong government complex on Saturday, September 27. An injured protester is tended to after clashing with riot police outside Hong Kong government complex on Saturday, September 27.
Riot police use pepper spray on pro-democracy activists who forced their way into the Hong Kong government headquarters during a demonstration on September 27. Riot police use pepper spray on pro-democracy activists who forced their way into the Hong Kong government headquarters during a demonstration on September 27.
People watch from on high as pro-democracy demonstrators are surrounded by police after storming a courtyard outside Hong Kong's legislative headquarters on Friday, September 26. People watch from on high as pro-democracy demonstrators are surrounded by police after storming a courtyard outside Hong Kong’s legislative headquarters on Friday, September 26.
Students march to Government House in Hong Kong on Thursday, September 25. Students march to Government House in Hong Kong on Thursday,STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Students in the massive protests in Hong Kong want representative democracy
  • Jeff Yang: These protesters may be the most sophisticated and technologically savvy ever
  • He says Chinese authorities are blocking images and creating apps that trick protesters
  • Yang: Smartphone a great tool for populist empowerment but it can easily be used against us

Editor’s note: Jeff Yang is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal Online and can be heard frequently on radio as a contributor to shows such as PRI’s “The Takeaway” and WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” He is the author of “I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action” and editor of the graphic novel anthologies “Secret Identities” and “Shattered.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — The massive protests in Hong Kong took an ugly turn on Friday when students pressing for representative democracy clashed with opponents, prompting a breakdown of talks aimed at defusing the crisis.

This negativity followed a week of remarkably peaceful civil disobedience in what has been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution,” after the widely shared image of a man defiantly holding up an umbrella in a haze of police tear gas fired to disperse the tens of thousands of activists crowding the city’s main government and business thoroughfare, the region referred to as Central.

But protesters shrugged off the gas assault as if it had never happened. Behind the barricades, they studied for exams, coordinated the cleanup and recycling of trash generated by the crowd, and jerry-rigged guerrilla charging stations for the voluminous array of devices the demonstrators are using as part of the sophisticated war they’re waging on the virtual front, wielding the digital-age weapons of image feeds, live streaming video and ceaseless social media updates.

Jeff Yang
Jeff Yang

The Umbrella Revolution is hardly the first protest to harness the power of technology to coordinate activities and broadcast messages, but it’s almost certainly the most sophisticated.

Andrew Lih, a journalism professor at American University, discussed the infrastructure the activists have adopted in an article for Quartz, a system that incorporates fast wireless broadband, multimedia smartphones, aerial drones and mobile video projectors, cobbled together by pro-democracy geektivists like the ad-hoc hacker coalition Code4HK.

Watch this video
Hong Kong clashes continue in Mong Kok
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Hong Kong police push through barricade

Given this remarkable show of force by the crowd under the Umbrella, it’s not surprising that Beijing has moved quickly to prevent transmissions from reaching the mainland, blocking Chinese access to Instagram, where images and videos from the demonstrations and police crackdowns are regularly being posted, and banning all posts on popular messaging sites like Weibo and WeChat carrying keywords that refer to the protests.

Activists have fought back by downloading the peer-to-peer “mesh messaging” app FireChat — which allows communication among nearby users even when centralized mobile services are unavailable by linking smartphones directly to one another via Bluetooth and wifi — in the hundreds of thousands, and by creating an elaborate system of numerical hashtags to stand in for forbidden terms.

For example, #689 is the codename for Hong Kong chief executive C.Y. Leung, referring to the number of votes he received in his selection as the region’s highest government representative, a scant majority of the 1,200 members of the the Communist Party-approved nominating committee. #8964 references Beijing’s brutal June 4, 1989, crackdown on student democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, which casts a looming shadow over the Occupy Central demonstrations.

These strategies seem to have prompted the Chinese authorities to resort to new and more insidious tactics. Links — seemingly posted by Code4HK — have begun popping up on social media, inviting users to download a new app that allows for secure coordination of protest activities.

Instead, clicking the link downloads a Trojan horse that gives its developers — presumed by some security experts to be “red hat’ hackers working with support from the Chinese government — open access to the messages, calls, contacts, location and even the bank information and passwords of those naive enough to download it.

That’s a harsh lesson not just for those living under authoritarian regimes, but for us citizens of nominally free and democratic societies as well.

The smartphone is by far the most formidable tool for populist empowerment ever invented, turning individual human beings into mobile broadcast platforms and decentralized mobs into self-organizing bodies. But it’s also jarringly easy for these devices to be used against us.

Here in the United States, revelations of the existence of massive government surveillance programs like the NSA’s PRISM have caused an uproar among digital libertarians. Likewise, criminal smartphone hacking and cloud cracking has led to the release of celebrity nude photos and sex videos, to the humiliation of those who thought them private.

The response from leading smartphone developers like Apple and Google has been to announce new methods of locking and encrypting information to make it harder for individuals, businesses or governments to gain access to our personal information.

But even as they add these fresh layers of security, they continue to extend the reach of these devices into our lives, with services that integrate frictionless financial transactions and home systems management into our smartphones, and wearable accessories that capture and transmit our very heartbeats.

Imagine how much control commercial exploiters, criminals — or overreaching law enforcement — might have if it gained access to all these features. The upshot is that we increasingly have to take matters into our own hands (and handsets), policing our online behavior and resisting the temptation to click on risky links.

It may be worth exploring innovative new tools that offer unblockable or truly secure alternatives to traditional communications, like the free VPN browser extension Hola, which evades global digital boundaries to Web access; open-source projects likeServal and Commotion, which are attempting to develop standards for mesh connectivity that route around the need for commercial mobile phone networks; and apps like RedPhone and Signal, which offer free, worldwide end-to-end encrypted voice conversations.

Most of these are works in progress. But as technology becomes ever more deeply embedded into our lifestyles, keeping our digital identities secure and private is becoming increasingly critical. And as the protests in Hong Kong have shown, the only solution may be to use technology to defend against technology — in other words, to fight fire with FireChat.

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IEEE Communications Magazine Publishes InterDigital Paper on P2P Communications

written by sstocker
 
InterDigital’s M2M team was recently published in the prestigious IEEE Communications Magazine with their article, “CA-P2P: Context-Aware Proximity-Based Peer-to-Peer Wireless Communications.” The work was co-authored by Chonggang Wang, Qing Li, Hongkun Li, Paul Russell, Jr. and Zhuo Chen, all engineers at InterDigital. The authors argue that CA-P2P may be a viable solution to both existing and new proximity-based services, including commercial applications such as advertising as well as emergency/disaster relief, when centralized networks may become unavailable.  Taking various levels of context into account during the P2P connection results in quick, efficient peer discovery and peer association. This will become increasingly important in the emerging fifth generation, with growing numbers of small cell and D2D communications becoming common. The paper delves into the benefits and challenges of CA-P2P and offers performance evaluations of simulations as evidence. Interested in learning even more? Visit our Vault, where you can search keywords such as peer-to-peer, device-to-device, D2D and IoT to find additional resources.