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How Syria's Rebels Communicate In the Face of Internet Shutdown 80

Posted by timothy
from the in-your-face-nyaaah-nyaaah dept.
jamaicaplain writes "In an extensive look at rebel communications, the New York Times reports that, 'In a demonstration of their growing sophistication and organization, Syrian rebels responded to a nationwide shutdown of the Internet by turning to satellite technology to coordinate within the country and to communicate with outside activists. To prepare, they have spent months smuggling communications equipment like mobile handsets and portable satellite phones into the country.'"
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How Syria's Rebels Communicate In the Face of Internet Shutdown

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  • by reiserifick (2616539) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:44AM (#42154289)
    ... as long as your government isn't powerful enough to force Skype to let them in the back door...
    • by a_hanso (1891616) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:17AM (#42154403) Journal
      So, about as secure as Blackberry, then?
    • by icebike (68054)

      Government power was used to shut down the internet in the first place.
      Probably because they were not powerful enough to force Skype (Microsoft) to let them in said back door, and could not monitor rebel coms.

      Never the less, and regardless of any preference for one side over the other, the very act of a government shutting down the internet has become something of a sign of imminent government failure. Its proven to be a desperation move in middle eastern countries, and an unsuccessful move in every case.

  • RFC 1149 (Score:5, Funny)

    by fred911 (83970) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:46AM (#42154299)

    A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1149.txt [ietf.org]

    • In that part of the world? Only if you want your packets to be shot and eaten.
    • by Nikker (749551)
      We should have a standard for hanging WIFI dongles off of pigeons, making a mesh network ;)
  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:55AM (#42154329)

    'rebels have been fighting governments without the aid of internet communications (or indeed any electronic technology) for thousands of years, remember Spartacus? William (Braveheart) Wallace? Bonnie Prince Charlie, George Washington. The rebels didn't even have the telegraph until the war between the states...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:14AM (#42154395)

      Yeah, but the established power they were fighting didn't have the Internet either. There's an asymmetry of power when the establishment has the ability to cut off a major form of communication that they and the rest of the world retain the advantage of using.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054)

        There's an asymmetry of power when the establishment has the ability to cut off a major form of communication that they and the rest of the world retain the advantage of using.

        I actually view cutting off the internet as an act of desperation. When viewed with hindsight, in the middle east at least, it has always signaled a fall of government.

    • by a_hanso (1891616) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:28AM (#42154459) Journal
      William Wallace and co. would have fared a lot worse if King Edward had ordered the English Royal Air Force jets to pound their positions with precision bombs. And Spartacus against well placed snipers? And Washington against a walkie-talkie coordinated British assault?
      • William Wallace and co. would have fared a lot worse if King Edward had ordered the English Royal Air Force jets to pound their positions with precision bombs. And Spartacus against well placed snipers? And Washington against a walkie-talkie coordinated British assault?

        I see you are a great fan of the 1632 series. :-)

      • by Sigg3.net (886486)

        With regards to the Spartacus snipers, there is the question of whether or not the snipers would run out of bullets before killing the actual Spartacus.

        Nuke them from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

    • by cusco (717999)
      These aren't actual 'rebels', you'd have a better comparison to Cesare Borgia, John Hawkwood, and Friedrich Adolf Riedesel.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, a better comparison would be those guys with Che Guevara, Mao Zedong or... Mohammed!
        • by cusco (717999)
          No, those were actual revolutionaries, the "freedom fighters" in Syria are mostly mercenaries.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by blade8086 (183911)

      What do you mean by: 'the war between the states'

      Aren't all wars between states?

      Or is this some sort of veiled euphamism for the US Civil War, whereby a completely moronic rebellion which wouldn't have occurred if people didn't want to enslave others despite their alleged subscription to a constitution which gave 'inaliable rights to all', thankfully, was defeated by people who have 1/2 a brain, and the losers prattled on about their 'states rights' and other random garbage (all the while passing jim crow

      • What do you mean by: 'the war between the states'

        Google [google.be] is your friend. Seriously, I'm not American and though military history is one of my interests, the period between the decline of muskets and the arrival of tanks isn't one of my favourites. And yet, I'm familiar with the phrase.

        Aren't all wars between states?

        Ummm, no. We had a private one in England back in the 15th century about flowers, and another in the 17th about hairstyles.

        Of course we were so hard that we'd kicked the shit out of everyone e

    • William (Braveheart) Wallace?

      Every person who has studied history even slightly seriously, whether as an academic career or a hobby, is laughing at you.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:56AM (#42154339)

    This should point out to politicians that you can't un-invent or un-learn a technology just by pulling the plug. There are countless other examples of this ridiculous attitude being unsucessfully used. The "war on drugs". Doomed to failure. Enough people have their own pot plants to re-stock the entire nation in a short time. There are so many ways to get other drugs across the border or even synthesized de novo that you would bankrupt your government trying to shut them all down. But they try. Disarming a population. Doomed to failure. Guns are small and easy to smuggle, and failing that, they can be MADE. Home-made weapons are quite common among the poor, and ammunition is cheap. And even in countries like afghanistan and Iraq, there are people with the chemical knowledge to make their own explosives.

    It's the politicians that never, ever learn. The Star Wars quote is quite relevant here, despite the source. "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

    • by tukang (1209392)

      People love to complain about politicians and don't get me wrong, we definitely have our fair share of unethical and dumb politicians but for the most part politicians will just spout whatever they think gets them reelected, so I think most of the anger towards politicians I hear on a daily basis is misplaced. Let's use your war on drugs example. A marijuana legalization ballot failed in Oregon, which has a far more liberal attitude towards marijuana than most states. A medical marijuana ballot initiative f

      • Thanks. I wish I could mod you up.

        You even went as far as pointing out that education could help. If more people knew what the real effects of certain laws and policies were, perhaps we would get better ones.

  • How about. . . (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:59AM (#42154357)

    Project Byzantium

    http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/12/08/15/1054246/project-byzantium-zero-to-ad-hoc-mesh-network-in-60-seconds-video

  • In some sense, how much free are the communication in a country is an indication on how free are the citizens to have their own political orientation.

  • by elucido (870205) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:37AM (#42154493)

    The lack of the internet actually would make it harder to monitor the rebels communication. With the internet they'd know who is using Tor and who is communicating in encrypted form. Without the internet it will be much harder now because the communication methods will go much deeper underground and will be just as efficient as before but harder or impossible to trace.

    The internet being cut off actually keeps the media from foreign countries from being able to monitor the situation but it doesn't greatly effect the situation because I am sure the rebels and syrian government both would be smart enough to have redundant forms of communication.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    so the Syrian government first disconnects the internet in the entire country and then .... Fixes it. Something doesn't sound right in this story.

  • to the syrian rebels months ago, i thought i remember reading that the USA announced it was still going to send communications equipment

    yeah, here we go:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/30/can-u-s-communication-kits-help-syrians-get-around-the-internet-blackout/ [washingtonpost.com]

    the usa has been providing assad-less commlinks to syrians for awhile now

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Need to coordinate all that humanitarian aid! ;p

      • We call it "humanitarian bombing" now. And I've noticed that all our pro-war mods have taken sides. Don't criticize the 'rebels'. They are 'liberators'. From what, who knows? But I'm sure our governments have all sorts of weapons contracts waiting to be signed by the customers with a better credit rating than the present regime. Fucking sick!

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Beh. Rebels win, and they'll be following the path that Egypt is now. Don't believe me? Wait for it. I'll be happy to point this out to the naysayers.

      • the liberals are fighting the islamists in egypt now. who knows who will win, but it means the entire population isn't the taliban, which some clueless westerners seem to believe

        likewise in syria

        and how will the usa know who the islamists are and who will embrace democracy?

        well, if you will recall, we gave them their comm equipment (wink, wink)

      • No no you are wrong. Only a 'mindless cynic' [slashdot.org] would express any doubt towards American 'free press' and the Holy Ruling Party.

        • by khallow (566160)
          Wow, you're really pouting over that barb. I guess that's evidence for some sort of mental activity. Congrats for your promotion to "thoughtless cynic"! May you go far.
          • Don't know what you mean. I'm merely pointing out how fanatics react to criticism of their idols, and that they cannot accept that they are being taken for a ride. This "Arab Spring" is a tragic farce. If recognition of that makes me a mindless cynic, then I shall wear the label proudly.

            • by khallow (566160)
              Pointing out through example? The "Arab Spring" has interesting historical parallels to the European revolutions of 1848 [wikipedia.org] (Wikipedia notes that they came with similar names such as "Spring of Nations", "Springtime of the People"). In the historical example, one saw both good and bad outcomes from that event over the past century and a half, including the eventual spread of democracy throughout all of Europe.

              Sure, the Arab Spring may end up being "tragic farce" just as much of the European version did (par
              • Whatever you say... Events and history are speaking for themselves, much louder than the lies from the propagandists you choose to believe. Until the outsiders quit meddling, or completely conquer the region (again), the "Arab Winter" will not relent, and each year will break new records in the arms trade. Indeed the useful idiot is you.

                • by khallow (566160)
                  You just can't help but dig that hole deeper, can you? I point out the obvious historical parallel and you're doing the teenager, "whatevar" act.

                  My take on this is that peaceful revolts that tend to result in more democratic governments are bad for the arms trade. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, etc have overturned their old governments without generating a lot of arms sales.
                  • You're still not getting it. These are proxy wars over which superpower has the most influence. If we don't make the deal, the Russians and Chinese will move in. They have nothing to do with "democracy". Fall off your high horse, and count the money.

                    Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, etc have overturned their old governments without generating a lot of arms sales.

                    Still a work in progress. They haven't generated legal arms sales. It's all just more "Iran/Contra"

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      You're still not getting it. These are proxy wars over which superpower has the most influence. If we don't make the deal, the Russians and Chinese will move in. They have nothing to do with "democracy". Fall off your high horse, and count the money.

                      This Arab Spring thing is lot bigger than some arms trading turf fight or a superpower scuffle. Things like arms trade, oil, and the superpower games give very powerful outsiders a big stake in what happens. But it didn't start or spread just because someone wanted some more fighter jet sales or a bigger share of the oil market.

                    • *sigh* You have no idea. So obvious to the criminal state you are, and since your posts are based on faith in the state controlled media that has created your impenetrable reality, I can no longer respond, so I will hand the 'brick wall' trophy over to you.

                    • by khallow (566160)
                      Please stop. You have no idea. Hundreds of millions of people are doing something remarkable. Pay attention. I'm not at all denying that the powers of the world have a stake in the Arab Spring. What I am denying is that the huge political changes of the Middle East are due to the intrigues of these powers.
  • Gadaffi tried the same thing and the rebels in the eastern half the country reconnected them from the pipes from Egypt and even re-enabled cell phone usage. The northern half of Syria is largely under rebel control with a few bases here and there that are rapidly falling. I am sure in a big city like Allepo there are pipes that flow into Turkey, Iraq, and Lebannon.

  • Or with their foreign "sponsors"?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lets not forget they are Terrorists after all not mere democracy fighting rebels

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry up is not nailed down. -- Collis P. Huntingdon, railroad tycoon

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