U.S Developing Mobile Phone Panic Button for Democracy Activists
The U.S. State Department is putting its money where its mouth is, according to the Daily Mail. It is funding the development of an application that will allow pro-democracy activists to delete all incriminating evidence on their cell phones with a single click while sending out an alert to their fellow activists.
The “panic button” will sent out a text message to those on the user’s address book, then erase that address book and the phone’s call history. This will be an important tool, given how thoroughly governments comb through dissident’s communications technology as a matter of course these days.
As “wired” as the world is, many of the most oppressive regimes have spent more money, including “aid” money, on gilding Dear Leader’s toilets than in establishing working infrastructure, so mobile communications are the default for activists.
“The initiative is part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s push to expand Internet freedoms,” wrote the Mail, “because of the crucial role Facebook and Twitter has had in fueling pro-democracy movements in Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere.”
Since 2008, the U.S. government has spent $50 million on firewall workarounds and other tools for defying censorship. Whether it’s been of any real on-the-ground value, is another discussion.
Contests, both military and philosophical, have moved onto geek ground for good and this is one aspect of the U.S.’s reaction to those conflicts.