So, I've been beating this drum for a while - oppressive governments are increasingly quick and intelligent in responding to protests that use mobile and new media to organize and get the word out. So, join us in July (http://www.meetup.com/intlrel-76/events/23103221/) to hear from an amazing panel and discuss the next steps in this cat and mouse game:
The Twitter Revolution. The Cellphone Revolution. The Facebook Revolution. While the "Arab Spring" uprisings succeed based on real-world organizing, protests and democracy-building, it's no secret that mobiles and social media provided tools to broadcast, coordinate and amplify these movements. Oppressive governments are responding both faster and smarter to these digital tools.
Please join our panel of experts discussing the role of online activism going forward. What are the next steps in information empowerment in a more hostile environment for online activism? What is the role of mobile and new media in affecting change in government, and what are the risks?
We will begin with a discussion by the panelists, then move into an open question and answer session. Afterwards, we'll transition to a happy hour at Circle Bistro.
Online Activism after #ArabSpring : What's Next?
Unsurprisingly, the Libyan cell network is built to be Tripoli-centric, "giving him and his intelligence agents full control over phones and Internet" according to the WSJ. If that's not a stark reminder of the challenges of using SMS and mobiles in human rights work that I've been concerned about, I don't know what is.
The brilliant response here has been to wrest control over segments of the Libyan mobile network. This has taken some outside effort, external government support, and massive funding - it is, at least for now, successful at creating an independent domestic network with limited external access:
A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications.
The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago.
That March cutoff had rebels waving flags to communicate on the battlefield. The new cellphone network, opened on April 2, has become the opposition's main tool for communicating from the front lines in the east and up the chain of command to rebel brass hundreds of miles away.