Preparing for the loss of internet access


08/16/2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ android,Mesh,Messaging,mobile,Network


Recently countries have begun to limit or deny citizens access to the internet for, in the words of officials “security reasons.” Bangladesh was first when on August 2nd they shut down the the internet and cell phone access for over three hours in what they called a test. Then on August 8th Russia denied access to the internet for those living in Crimea near the Ukranian border, in what they called an effort to prevent an incursion of Ukranian spies.

I predict this control of internet access will only spread to western countries as frustration spreads over the inability to read communications due to encryption applications. On August 23 German and French officials will meet to work out how to deal with the spread of encrypted messaging apps.

I foresee a future where lacking any clear way to resolve the issue they’ll begin blocking cell and internet access in an extreme response in the war on terror. I have always said shutting down the internet would be the only way to foil encrypted communications. Well it seems we have reached that point.

However, we are ready for this inevitability, almost. Now is the time to prepare for the loss of the internet by downloading apps and setting up the infrastructure necessary to communicate when access to the internet has been denied. Open source peer to peer Mesh apps don’t need the internet but instead bounce from user to user via a LAN in order to complete the network. Messaging apps designed as peer to peer function in much the same way. The problem is many of these apps run only in Linux or other obscure operating systems which are not widely used by the general public. Many are also are in alpha or beta mode meaning they are not ready for the average person to install and use.

What we need is a concerted effort to choose a protocol for networking and messaging that works on all the major OS’s and is easy to install and use. We already have the skeleton of usable systems we now just need to put meat and skin on the bones so it is fully usable by the masses. Yes I know this takes money and time which means a full scale effort is needed to make this happen.

We know of only 2 true open source peer to peer applications. (As an aside FireChat is a proprietary app using an open source protocol called FireBase. Encryption is not on by default and we don’t even know what type encryption protocol is used so we don’t recommend.) One is for the desktop called Bit Chat and the other is for mobile called Briar. Bit Chat runs only on Windows and Linux. To use without the internet you would have to first join a Local Area Network (LAN) or be running a MESH network app or a configured wireless router giving you access to a network. Briar uses Bluetooth or WIFI to connect to other users within range. In densely populated areas this would would work best since the range of the radio signal is limited. Problem is Bit Chat is in alpha meaning barely usable and Briar hasn’t even released an app for download yet with an Android app in private beta. Making matters worse MESH network protocols are complicated to setup and use for the average person.

This is why mobile peer to peer apps like Briar are our best hope for on the fly instant networks people could use while meeting or demonstrating in large groups. I recommend we support Briar with development and money to get both the Android app released as soon as possible as well as audited for functionality and security. Currently they are in need of a developer. To contribute as a developer go to https://briarproject.org/get-involved.html

With more money and developer support we can help bring Briar to the masses sooner rather than later.

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