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Stop the Secrecy

The Guardian: Hong Kong protesters are getting help from this cool app

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 14:58 -- Eva Prkachin

Check out how pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are using a mobile app to connect with each other.

Article by Archie Bland for the Guardian

Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student in Hong Kong, had a problem. You will have experienced a version of it yourself: you are at a football match or a gig and you need to find a friend. But the crowd means that the network is overloaded, and you can’t get a signal on your phone. The thing that means you need to call someone is the very thing that means you can’t.

For Wong, the problem was more serious: he wasn’t at a football match, but playing a leading role in the organisation of the pro-democracy protests that have shaken his city over the past week. And he wasn’t just worried the network would be overloaded – he was worried the authorities would block it on purpose.

Every major display of social unrest these days seems to come with a game-changing technological accompaniment. The London riots were narrated on BlackBerry Messenger. Twitter played an essential role in the Arab spring. Turkish protesters who found the internet blocked turned to censor-proof Virtual Private Networks. But none of those innovations was much use without a connection. For Wong and his allies in Hong Kong, the answer was an app that allows people to send messages from phone to phone without mobile reception, or the internet: FireChat.

- Read more at The Guardian