Tuesday, June 14, 2011


While the State Department is criticized by some as yet another bloated Washington bureaucracy, they also sometimes come up with some pretty cool ideas. Case in point, the story that broke this weekend about the development of something that's being called “the Internet-in-a-Box”.

As we've seen from this year's “Arab Spring” revolts across the Middle East/North Africa region, the Internet has become the bane of despotic leaders around the world, after all, how can you have a good massacre of your citizens when some random guy with a cellphone and a YouTube account can go spreading word (and more importantly images) of your brutality to the world? The counter-move by today’s despot is simply to pull the plug on the Internet, a tactic we've seen used in Egypt, Libya and even on occasion in restive regions of China (like Tibet and Xinjiang). That's where the Internet-in-a-Box comes in. It is a trunk-sized device that can create a virtual network using cellphone handsets that can then connect to the World Wide Web independently of a given nation’s telecommunications system, thus bypassing any attempts at censorship or communications blackouts imposed by the local despot.

The Internet-in-a-Box will ensure that the world can bear witness to whatever atrocities are being committed against anti-regime protestors and will allow the lines of communications to stay open with whatever opposition forces have the Box. It's a pretty cool piece of tech, and yet another headache for the world's autocrats.
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