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Obtaining Freedom of Communication


Americans are always whining about net neutrality or other “infringments” they believe are levied against their Internet experience. It’s a good thing they’re not Iranian. According to Internet publishers and blogs, the Iranians have recently begun to block all forms of encrypted Internet traffic? presumably in an effort to permit network censors to monitor all indigenous traffic. When users attempt to access webpages over SSL, they’re redirected to a page loosely warning them that “according to computer crime regulations, access to this Web site is denied.” Such measures seem focused on allowing the government to monitor network traffic such that social uprisings can be pinpointed on various, insidious individuals and suppressed quickly.

When the Internet can be shut down in countries like this so easily, what are the best mechanisms for a resistance to use for organizing?

  • amateur radio?
  • pre-paid cell phones?
  • mesh networks?

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Not so easy by Occams

Amateur radio has the advantage that the HF bands can carry communications around the world, whereas cell phones and mesh networks require local infrastructure. Ham radio is not really an option because it is used under a licence that can easily be withdrawn. Sure, the technology could still be used illegally but, strictly, it is against regulations for an amateur to communicate on an amateur band with another operator he knows is not licensed. Also, they are supposed to confine subjects to the hobby of amateur radio. Phone patching is allowed in the USA but not in many other countries. HF is not very suitable for long range IP traffic, although it can be done with suitable modems.

So it would simply be clandestine use of the same frequencies as are used for amateur radio. There are many other bands for which cheap equipment is available and much HF amateur equipment can be simply tuned to non amateur frequencies. Most amateurs would be opposed to their frequencies being used for political purposes. The hobby only survives because their governments trust them, and this would be a dangerous precedent (it has never been done before to my knowledge).

My medium of choice for getting out propaganda and reports of struggles against my government would be AM radio broadcasting on ( unused ) short wave broadcast frequencies. This would have the advantage of being able to be received by anyone using commonly available receivers. It would need to be done from mobile vehicles, but even so the operator would not survive for long because such transmissions can easily be found using simple directional antennas.

An ideal arrangement would be to uplink to a retransmission service on a hill located across the border in a friendly country, or better still, to a satellite from where the signal can be relayed into the internet.

-1 Vote  - +
Mesh by Anonymous

Mesh networks are the biggest threat we face. People would be able to completely bypass the monitoring system. This makes it critical that we force hardware and software manufacturers to provide kill switches.

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RE: Mesh by Occams

The question was:
>When the Internet can be shut down in countries like this so easily, what are the best mechanisms for a resistance to use for organizing?

So, if we are trying to help dissidents, why would you want to shut down mesh networks – unless you are part of the police state.

my understanding of mesh networks is that they cope very well with individual nodes being shut down – by automaticallt re-routing traffic.

The best method of communications for a resistance to use for organising is face to face meetings in a secure location. Not very convenient for a spread out group.

If that is not possible then a mobile solution having international access would probably be best.
Cell phones are not highly secure, but GSM with an anonmous single use sim cards and throw away handsets would be good enough to protect the RF interface. The problem there is that governments do not usually intercept at the RF layer. They tend to capture the call using covert conference call set-ups with the cooperation of the carrier.

NSA could probably counter anonymous SIMS, but I doubt that the intel services in any of the Arab Spring dictatorships could.

I don’t see why mesh networks would be a particularly good solution. Why would that be better than encrypted e-mail.

I would suggest an anonymous protected private file server using a strongly encrypted virtual hard drive having a folder for each recipient.

1 Vote  - +
RE: Mesh by VnutZ

Mesh doesn’t really help unless everyone has access to its infrastructure. Let’s look at some case examples:

  • Local Mesh : Okay … it is true they can communicate with one another without touching the monitoring system. But they’re more than likely close enough in proximity they may as well meet in person.
  • Remote Mesh : In order to effectively have a carrier such that remote terminals can mesh in means that direction finding equipment will locate the transmitter and shut the mesh down. Not effective.
  • Mesh to Internet : Many people keep thinking pirate networks are the key to it all … if the government has effectively shut down the Internet (think Middle Eastern countries), you can mesh all you want but you’re only going to see internal material unless somebody has an uplink somehow (satellite, etc).

As to the last point, that’s why the US is attempting to field Internet in a Suitcase solutions to help seed rebellions in countries like that.

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