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Anonymous' radio-based networking keeps protesters off the grid

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 25, 2014
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Despite being an internet activist group, Anonymous knows the value of avoiding traditional communication; it's sometimes the only way for dissidents to elude surveillance and service disruptions. Accordingly, the group has just unveiled AirChat, a networking system that uses any available radio connection to share data between PCs. Nearly all of its infrastructure is based on encrypted data packets -- you need encryption keys to get a spot on the network and receive any private information, making it virtually impossible to fake an address. Users can share internet access if they get it, and there's support for both proxy servers and Tor routing to anonymize any online activity.

This isn't quite a protester's paradise. Broadcast radio is typically slower than cellular data or WiFi. At present, AirChat is also very barebones -- you can hold voice chats, send images and even play basic games, but not much else. Anonymous does plan to expand functionality once it has a clearer sense of what users want, though, and it notes that the software could also be useful in disasters and other situations where traditional networks aren't available. However AirChat develops, it could be the technology of choice for those determined to get their message across -- no matter who stands in their way.

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