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Best Handset For Freedom?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the start-with-android dept.

Privacy 232

Father Thomas Dowd writes "The images we are seeing of Iran are being captured on cell phones and the text is being twittered over SMS. Still, the government has some control over the networks, and we are all familiar with fears of wiretap technologies to spy on users. If the cell phone is the new tool of freedom, what would the best 'freedom handset' contain? I'm thinking of a device with an open OS, where each phone could be a router for encrypted messages passed through Bluetooth/WiFi/whatever, thereby totally bypassing physical infrastructures when necessary. Of course, some sort of plausible deniability encryption a la Truecrypt would also be good, in case the secret police catch you with your phone. What else might we need?"

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Yeah, right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407131)

The submitter, Father Thomas Dowd, could give a rat's ass about Iran.

He's trying to get secure phone advice from geeks so that he can relive the moments with his altar boys in the rectory basement without those pesky authorities finding the evidence.

Re:Yeah, right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407599)

If you were logged in I would friend you.

What else might we need? (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407137)

SCUD Wifi...

Re:What else might we need? (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407185)

Even better, two tin cans and some string. Nigh on impossible to tap, and no encryption necessary!

Re:What else might we need? (2, Insightful)

ZygnuX (1365897) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407233)

Actually its pretty easy to tap.. and even easier to decode ( 1-to-1 relation between the waves captured and the audio transmitted)

Re:What else might we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407653)

Actually its pretty easy to tap.. and even easier to decode ( 1-to-1 relation between the waves captured and the audio transmitted)

Who said anything about digital? Typical slashdot...

Re:What else might we need? (2, Informative)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407701)

Well, according to this totally trustworthy source [wikia.com] , wire tapping was invented only years after the tin can phone!

The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407515)

In the absence of an external interfering force (e. g., the army of the Soviet Union), the fate of a nation is determined by its people. Period.

After the Kremlin exited Eastern Europe, the peoples of each nation in Eastern Europe rapidly established a genuine democracy and a free market. Except for Romania (where its people killed their dictator), there was no violence.

In Iran (and many other failed states), no external force is imposing the current brutal government on the Iranians. The folks running the government are Iranian. The president is Iranian. The secret police are Iranian. The thugs who will torture and kill democracy advocates are Iranian.

If the democracy advocates attempt to establish a genuine democracy in Iran, violence will occur. Why? A large percentage of the population supports the brutal government and will kill the democracy advocates.

Let us not merely condemn the Iranian government. We must condemn Iranian culture. Its product is the authoritarian state.

We should not intervene in the current crisis in Iran. If the overwhelming majority of Iranians (like the overwhelming majority of Poles) truly support democracy, human rights, and peace with Israel, then a liberal Western democracy will arise -- without any violence. Right now, the overwhelming majority clearly oppose the creation of a liberal Western democracy. The Iranians love a brutal Islamic theocracy.

The Iranians created this horrible society. It is none of our business unless they attempt to develop nuclear weapons. We in the West are morally justified in destroying the nuclear-weapons facilities.

Note that, 40 years ago, Vietnam suffered a worse fate (than the Iranians) at the hands of the Americans. They doused large areas of Vietnam with agent orange, poisoning both the land and the people. Yet, the Vietnamese do not channel their energies into seeking revenge (by, e. g., building a nuclear bomb) against the West. Rather, the Vietnamese are diligently modernizing their society. They will reach 1st-world status long before the Iranians.

Cultures are different. Vietnamese culture and Iranian culture are different. The Iranians bear 100% of the blame for the existence of a tyrannical government in Iran. We should condemn Iranian culture and its people.

Re:The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407687)

This is the 3rd time i have read this same thing, and its the 2nd it has been on fairly unrelated article.

Re:The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407695)

Tell that to Barack Obama. He went to the middle east and boldly proclaimed, "I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal". Yes, women in the West can cover their hair. And in the middle east, if they choose not to cover their hair, they will be raped and then stoned to death for adultery. That's the culture, and he wants to pretend that all cultures are equal. Except perhaps for the Israeli culture. They need to give their land up to people who hate them and want to kill them.

Re:The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407981)

The Israel is a bloodthirsty theocracy just like the rest of the govts in the area.

Let's not kid ourselves here. They just act European because most of them are/were born of displaced/deported Jews after WWII.

They hate and want to kill the Palestinians just as badly as the Palestinians want to do the same to them.

There's only one obvious choice... (2, Informative)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407143)

...and that choice is the Neo FreeRunner [openmoko.org] . :p

Or, for a more capable cell phone, I would believe that any phone with Android would do.

There's cheaper and less limited way... (4, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407203)

Step 1: Get cheapest phone you can find with GPRS and USB. Right now that would be probably LG KP100 - a little over $20 without contract. Use this phone only for "secret" communication, with prepaid SIM cards.

Step 2: A netbook. Usual rules of secretiveness apply - make sure it doesn't transmit any identifiable information, keep "secret" OS separate and on a microSD card, transmit through Tor, and so on...

Re:There's cheaper and less limited way... (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407441)

I thought the summary was referring to phones that are "free," so the first thing that came to mind were the open-source phones mentioned above.

As far as being a dissident, I also recommend a super cheap phone, or at the very least one that can anonymize him or her...

Re:There's cheaper and less limited way... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407989)

Tor has been shown to be less secure than some people believe. True, it's better than nothing, but today's standard is I2P. I won't waste space here - google is your friend - check it out. Be warned, the sickos who used to inhabit Tor and Freenet have moved to I2P, but I have found that if I don't look, I can't be terribly offended. It's actually cleaner than freenet, unless you go searching for child porn. Enjoy . . .

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407227)

But consider what would happen if the secret police catch an Iranian rioter with a FreeRunner. For me it might be better to carry a cheap commodity dumb phone. For secure communication use a simple voice code committed to memory. Send messages by voice or SMS. Relay through an innocent cutout. Somebody who you legitimately would talk to, but who can't be easily be pulled in for questioning.

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (5, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407617)

All of this is kind of a moot point to me. If you need all of this encryption what you really need a few dozen million of your closest friends to demand change. The Iranian Revolution took place with no cell phones or internet. The Berlin wall fell without twitter. China still has Twitter and YouTube but it hasn't facilitated a popular movement for mass change.

Twitter has been fun for CNN to browse all day but as far as an organizational tool and effective means of rebellion I imagine its actual use has been extremely overblown. People could have just as easily emailed these news posts directly to news organizations, bloggers and friends. And considering most of the important ones have been longer than 140 characters I suspect emailing is still the preferred means of communicating the current state of Iran.

I hear a lot of about twitter but I haven't heard any useful news with it cited as a source.

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407821)

Great post. Thank you for keeping your head straight. We need people like you on this planet. If I had mod points I would mod you up.

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407957)

The Iranian Revolution took place with no cell phones or internet.

The regime they were rebelling against had less technology and ability to coordinate response, too. If only one side is advancing, the balance shifts in favor of that side.

I hear a lot of about twitter but I haven't heard any useful news with it cited as a source.

There's plenty of useful news that's been reported there, but most of it hasn't been picked up by any of the major TV news outlets that I've seen. They are more interested in putting up compelling (or confusing) video from the scene than anything else. The NY Times has been following a lot of the non-traditional sources (Twitter, et al.) and culling real news from them on their own blog that's been updated frequently every day.

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (5, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408019)

I've been following the NY Times and Huffington live blogs all day. Here are representative posts:

Twitter Source:
"People are very angry...they are screaming like a banshee...this ain't aloha akbar anymore"

"unrest today confirmed in Tehran, Esfahan, Rasht, & Shiraz."

Email Source:
"There were thousands of people out on the streets the police were using tear gas - the whole experience was terrifying. Towhid (Unity) Square looked like a battle ground.
There were lots of female protestors - I saw a guard attack one women and then she went back up to him and grabbed him by the collar and said 'why are you doing this? Are you not an Iranian?' - he was totally disarmed and didn't know what to do but her actions stopped him."

"...I don't know where this uprising is leading. I do know some police units are wavering. That commander talking about his family was not alone. There were other policemen complaining about the unruly Basij. Some security forces just stood and watched. "All together, all together, don't be scared," the crowd shouted.

I also know that Iran's women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I've seen them urging less courageous men on. I've seen them get beaten and return to the fray. "Why are you sitting there?" one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. "Get up! Get up!"

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of "Death to the dictator!" and "We want liberty!" accompanied her.

There were people of all ages. I saw an old man on crutches, middle-aged office workers and bands of teenagers. Unlike the student revolts of 2003 and 1999, this movement is broad. [...]"

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407409)

As a dissident, the better choice would probably be a stolen phone! Going to jail for stealing a phone will get you simple prison time and probably a beating or two. Going to jail for spying and sending videos to Western Agents could get you disappeared. Having an openmoko phone would be highly suspicious from a technology point of view (although it would probably be easy enough to hide stuff in from a bunch of police thugs.)

The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407635)

In the absence of an external interfering force (e. g., the army of the Soviet Union), the fate of a nation is determined by its people. Period.

After the Kremlin exited Eastern Europe, the peoples of each nation in Eastern Europe rapidly established a genuine democracy and a free market. Except for Romania (where its people killed their dictator), there was no violence.

In Iran (and many other failed states), no external force is imposing the current brutal government on the Iranians. The folks running the government are Iranian. The president is Iranian. The secret police are Iranian. The thugs who will torture and kill democracy advocates are Iranian.

If the democracy advocates attempt to establish a genuine democracy in Iran, violence will occur. Why? A large percentage of the population supports the brutal government and will kill the democracy advocates.

Let us not merely condemn the Iranian government. We must condemn Iranian culture. Its product is the authoritarian state.

We should not intervene in the current crisis in Iran. If the overwhelming majority of Iranians (like the overwhelming majority of Poles) truly support democracy, human rights, and peace with Israel, then a liberal Western democracy will arise -- without any violence. Right now, the overwhelming majority clearly oppose the creation of a liberal Western democracy. The Iranians love a brutal Islamic theocracy.

The Iranians created this horrible society. It is none of our business unless they attempt to develop nuclear weapons. We in the West are morally justified in destroying the nuclear-weapons facilities.

Note that, 40 years ago, Vietnam suffered a worse fate (than the Iranians) at the hands of the Americans. They doused large areas of Vietnam with agent orange, poisoning both the land and the people. Yet, the Vietnamese do not channel their energies into seeking revenge (by, e. g., building a nuclear bomb) against the West. Rather, the Vietnamese are diligently modernizing their society. They will reach 1st-world status long before the Iranians.

Cultures are different. Vietnamese culture and Iranian culture are different. The Iranians bear 100% of the blame for the existence of a tyrannical government in Iran. We should condemn Iranian culture and the Iranian people.

Re:The Grotesquely Ugly Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407857)

Spamming your argument is an admission that it's a weak argument.

Re:There's only one obvious choice... (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407685)

As others have said, this would probably get everyone killed, ...but still, the NeoPwn is all open moku, with bigger balls. www.neopwn.com [neopwn.com]

First thing that comes to mind (3, Interesting)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407151)

Most likely the next logical step for rural and otherwise disconnected people would be satellite. However currently it is cost prohibitive for the average person.

So the best handset for this purpose would be satellite capable.

Yeah, mesh networks suck. (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407231)

Yup, a local government will have a much harder time shutting down satellite and radio (HAM, CB, walkie-talkie) communications, and they will be infinitely more reliable than mesh networking.

First off, for mesh networking to work at all, you would need a large number of people that have the phones - a few people buying Freedom Handsets isn't going to cut it. Even then, your signal gets to the edge of down, and where does it go from there? Assuming you can link into the network, then why not just get a network enabled device to begin with and forget this mesh crap? Plus mesh networking will increase power requirements and unpredictability, requiring as big of a battery as a satellite phone.

Re:Yeah, mesh networks suck. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407465)

Okay how's this for an amateur satellite project? You put a bird into lowish polar orbit. It is basically a store and forward communications satellite which uses lasers for up link and down link. Ground stations can be kept fairly simple. A gun sight for aiming. Transmit data with a laser. Receive data with a photo diode.

Users invent their own identifiers. Messages are point to point or point to multi point. To exchange data with the satellite you need to send it your identifier, then the satellite points a laser your way to send a reply.

Interface definitions and example implementations would be open source and freely available.

Re:Yeah, mesh networks suck. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407951)

That doesn't sound amateur at all. In fact it sounds fiendishly complicated to get right, and would require highly advanced laser technology for the satellite.

Re:Yeah, mesh networks suck. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408099)

That doesn't sound amateur at all. In fact it sounds fiendishly complicated to get right, and would require highly advanced laser technology for the satellite.

Well many amateur satellites are fiendishly complicated right now. I don't see the laser up link being too much of a technical issue. The down link could probably be done with radio and a low gain antenna. Hiding the up link signal is the main issue I think.

Re:Yeah, mesh networks suck. (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407655)

a local government will have a much harder time shutting down satellite and radio (HAM, CB, walkie-talkie) communications

Plus you could use something like this! [atarimagazines.com]

Suck? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408107)

You say that mesh networks are bad, and then go on to suggest that we should all use HAM radio instead. Why would you think that HAM radio isn't just another variation of a mesh network?

1. Doesn't rely on a centralized carrier - check!

2. Radio waves to transmit digital information - check!

3. Equipment can be stationary or mobile for short-range coomunication - check!

4. Digital information is repeated from point to point until its destination is reached - check!

I think that you've been thinking about mesh networks as short-range wifi-like computer-only mesh networks. But there is no aspect of these networks that isn't being done in some fashion on the far older HAM networks! It's slower, older, often manually prformed - but it's just as much a 'mesh network' if not more so!

Keep in mind though (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407161)

that whatever your choice of handset, it isn't very "free" as long as it is locked to a single service provider.

Handset for Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407173)

TOR, (The Onion Router) may be useful to build a path out to the wider internet. Some form of peer to peer networking could also be good, obviates the necessity of going through spied on servers. All of these could be placed (or may be already, I don't own one) on an Android handset, and that could be something the governments in oppressive countries will start checking for.

      This period of turbulence in the world may actually prove to be a benefit for freedom, if some people will unclench their fist.

Open source smart phone (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407175)

First off, no commercial phone will come with encryption or any sort of privacy option. This means that you will either need add-on applications, or the ability to tweak the OS.

Secondly, you need an OS you can audit. This rules out BlackBerry, iPhone, and the Nokia N line. Realistically, you're going to end up with a Linux phone.

Thirdly, you need one that is well documented, with a vibrant developer and user community.

With these criteria, I can recommend the T-Mobile G1. I compiled my own OS image, I can run whatever I want (I encrypt ALL data, messages, and calls), and none of it shared with the telcos or the government (one and the same at this point).

Re:Open source smart phone (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407383)

You encrypt all data, messages, and calls? I suppose that is possible, but exactly how do people at the other end of these communications decrypt them? What is the point of having one of these devices if you can't actually communicate with anyone?

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407577)

It's so secure, you don't have to worry about texting your ex in a drunken stupor at 3am begging for a booty call. She'll get a text message, but will have no idea who sent it or what the contents are!

Re:Open source smart phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407451)

I can setup IPSec VPNs with my phone and route calls through the VPN using only the software that came packaged with my smartphone.

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407455)

I thought Blackberries can have all points of communication encrypted? Isn't that what was done for President Obama's device?

Re:Open source smart phone (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407591)

Yup, they have a special build of the OS for Obama's phone, to make sure everything is encrypted. Of course, it means that the device is functionally useless because nobody else can decrypt any sent data, but he really likes how the BlackBerry's keyboard feels.

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407767)

Or you could use Windows Mobile and a secure VPN.

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407899)

BlackBerries support content encryption, and Windows Mobile supports encrypting the entire user editable partition. I think the iPhone 3G S may also support device encryption as well. All support some sort of private channels of communication (SSL with http, imap, smtp, along with VPNs.)

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407945)

Also, hackability can be a downside. If it's easy to replace the bootloader or kernel with a modified and unsigned one from a cold boot, it doesn't matter if the software is secure; attackers can secretly install their modified kernel / bootloader on a device while the owner isn't looking.

On devices that perform signature checking of firmware updates, this is less of an issue.

Re:Open source smart phone (1)

Mjec (666932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408053)

I compiled my own OS image, I can run whatever I want (I encrypt ALL data, messages, and calls).

What apps do you use for this? Have you put the image online somewhere?

Re:Open source smart phone (4, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408171)

With these criteria, I can recommend the T-Mobile G1. I compiled my own OS image...

I doubt that. If you had, you wouldn't be able to make phone calls on it. The GSM stack runs on its own processor core, has its own closed-source operating system shipped as a binary blob, cannot be upgraded without the encryption key that they won't give you, and for excellent regulatory reasons even if you did have the key, turning the radio on while running unauthorized firmware would get you beaten to death by lawyers.

Sure, you can run your own code on the applications processor, but let's face it, any modern electronics device is full if little (and not-so-little) processors running lots of code that you have no access to. You simply have no idea what any of that stuff is doing. Auditing the code running on the apps processor is a start, but no more than a start.

Satellite Phone (3, Informative)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407181)

If you're worried about censorship, there's no better choice than a satellite phone. They're continuing to drop in price, you're not limited to a terrestrial cellular network, and many models can be tethered to provide Internet access. The big problem for non-Western countries (where they'd be most useful) is the cost, of course. In general terms -- there are cheaper options -- airtime is $1 per minute, and bandwidth also is pricey. Still, they'd be perfect in a circumstance like what's going on in Iran right now, or for any sort of major disaster.

Primitive version used in Tienanmen (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407705)

20 years ago CNN used a primitive version of a Satellite Phone to get "live" pictures back from Tienanmen Square in Beijing, China.

If I recall it took about 20 seconds for a grainy tv-quality frame to transmit.

Similar satellite picture phones were used in the Middle East during Gulf War I in the early '90s.

Freedom or terrorism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407183)

The best handset for freedom will also be the best handset for terrorism.

Re:Freedom or terrorism (5, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407253)

Some of us believe freedom is worth risking our lives for. If you want to jump at shadows, that's your business, just make sure you don't try to trample my rights in the process. I'm far more afraid of our own government than terrorism.

We've had enemies for decades. Sometimes, one will get through.

Re:Freedom or terrorism (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407341)

Yeah, jumping at shadows is a good way to describe both sides of the spectrum. Especially living in San Francisco, you wouldn't believe the conspiracy theories people talk about from the government. The reality is, the US isn't going to suddenly turn into a totalitarian state anymore than terrorists are going to kill us all. If you're afraid of either, you're out of touch with reality (this only goes for the US: in Iraq or Iran, things are different).

The practical matter of the question is, right now there are people on the ground who could probably use some sort of reliable communication system that is not disruptable. And most of us want to help them out if we can.

Re:Freedom or terrorism (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407377)

I don't think either is a huge threat to be blunt. I'm far more scared of a traffic accident.

I'd be a lot more scared of both in, say, the UK.

Re:Freedom or terrorism (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407365)

That's a risk I'm willing to take...

Know what else is good for terrorists? Oxygen and water. Fighting terrorism isn't the end-all-be-all of our priorities. In fact, the flu and cars kill more American annually than terrorists.

Depends on how you define terrorist (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407777)

In fact, the flu and cars kill more American annually than terrorists.

With the broad definition of "terrorist" I wouldn't be surprised if flu viruses and automobiles were added to the no-fly list soon.

Re:Depends on how you define terrorist (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407877)

The U.S. government is trying to add the flu to no fly lists. [consumeraffairs.com]

Quarantines (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408079)

Quarantines make some sense for diseases which are both highly contagious and highly dangerous. There was a time we thought the 2006 strain of flue would be just that. It turned out not to be the case. There are some diseases, like Ebola, that would warrant a quarantine.

Quarantines also make some sense for highly contagious diseases which are not widespread but could easily become widespread without one. This applied to bird flu in 2006 and it applied to the 2009 swine flu in its early stages. Once a disease that isn't particularly dangerous gets a foothold in an area there's not much point in preventing travel within that area or between that area and similarly-affected areas.

There is a possibility that the 2009 swine flu will evolve into a highly dangerous strain. If this happens, expect quarantines and travel restrictions if you are traveling from an affected area to a non-affected area.

US intelligence agencies monitor this stuff. (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407555)

The best handset for freedom will also be the best handset for terrorism.

As I understand it (not being affiliated with them but only observing reports on the open media):

The US intelligence agencies monitor cellphones in the middle east and other areas of interest from satellites. (They definitely tap GSM phones and it would be silly if they didn't tap satellite phones as well.) This was used to map out terrorist networks, using both voice intercepts and traffic analysis (including one they got a big break on because a major message forwarder swapped smartcards in a single handset for the calls to each of his contacts - he didn't know that the phone also sent its own i.d. as well as that of the smartcard.) Eventually the terrorists figured out cellphones were compromised and moved off them entirely.

Given that the US has this ability but is unlikely to share info from it with a regime it exposes, few others have anything like it (for the next few years at least), cellphones hacked for security might be useful for resistance movements (that aren't opposed by a major space-capable power) and boobytraps for terrorists. I'd guess that will continue to be the case for at least another decade or so.

Re:US intelligence agencies monitor this stuff. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407569)

... but is unlikely to share info from it with a regime it exposes ...

Typo. Should be "opposes". B-(

Re:Freedom or terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408139)

One mans freedom fighter is some other mans terrorist. Nothing new in that.

Just one small problem (2, Insightful)

madfilipino (557839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407187)

So you get it designed and manufactured and all that fun stuff.... you still need it approved by the government to use on a wireless network. How are you going to get around that "roadblock" to freedom? Some backwater country like Iran can say that in order to use it in the country it needs to have an approved "supreme commander shut off switch".

Are you kidding? (5, Funny)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407199)

"If the cell phone is the new tool of freedom, what would the best 'freedom handset' contain?"

Seeing how the election has gone so far, ummm, an M4 or AK-47?

Re:Are you kidding? (2, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407303)

That's silly but maybe a derringer barrel that doubled as an antenna would be good.

Re:Are you kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407333)

"Seeing how the election has gone so far"

Let me guess...you heard about that from one of those Twitter accounts that totally aren't run by US intelligence agencies.

Anyway, what more proof does anyone need? The Iranian elections were run by fucking IRANIANS. Never trust fucking IRANIANS, the're goddamn foreigners.

Regardless, it is nice to see US citizens showing their support for riots in support of Mousavi - you know the guy how supported the US hostage taking back in the 1970s.

Re:Are you kidding? (1, Offtopic)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407507)

The whole mess in Iran started because the UK overthrew the democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh just because he had the gumption to kick out the British owned oil company and replace it with Iranians.

60 Minutes Anti-Iranian Propganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407607)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onNzrNEFs1E [youtube.com]

That footage is not of some no-name blog playing ideological games. That footage is from what massive number of US citizens consider the most respected journalists on TV.

US citizens barking out outrage right on que like a trained animal is not the least bit shocking.

Fake US Outrage Has Jumped The Shark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407435)

1953: US Operation Ajax - Overthrows the democratically-elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq

1979: Iranians overthrow the US puppet Shah of Iran

1980: US hostages being held due to the US interference in Iran are released - an action supported by Mousavi - you know the guy all these kids on digg and reddit seem to have fallen in love with...

2009: Ahmadinejad wins reelection by a margin that roughly matches pre-election polls - and demonstrating his huge popularity in the large rural areas of Iran

2009: After years of US cross border raids, support of minority ethnic group terrorist attacks inside of Iran, threats of attack to all out war from the US, and outright lies repeated in the media attributed to Ahmadinejad by the US media and intellegence agencies, to trying to manufacture US outrage with dummy Twitter and other social media accounts.

2009: KDawson posts "Best Handset For Freedom?" on Slashdot

The Shark, it has been jumped.

Can we put the fake outrage to rest now. Yes it was a gold mine for Karma whores, but it's time for the US to give what every one of 'our Iranian brothers and sisters' wants - for the US to leave them the fuck alone.

Not too much to ask now is it?

Re:Fake US Outrage Has Jumped The Shark (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407769)

some wee problems with your version, the big outrage is inside Iran and is not fake, nor is it due to U.S.. The economy is in a mess over there, 30% unemployment etc.etc. and the people are pissed at the government and want change.

Re:Fake US Outrage Has Jumped The Shark (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407863)

Wait you mean the US is NOT supposed to keep other countries subdued under the guise of safety? That argument has good logic and reason behind it, not something the "majority" of us Americans excel in.

Re:Are you kidding? (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407801)

Seeing how the election has gone so far, ummm, an M4 or AK-47?

There is no way an AK-47 will ever be sold on any kind of usage plan. Can you imagine how things would go if a user disputed their statement and didn't like the outcome taking it to the billing department? "What do you mean you're going to charge me for the excess bullets!? I didn't use them that month! Here take them back you scum!" *machine gun fire*

I know what my ideal headset would have. (2, Funny)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407207)

A nicely shielded tin-foil dome to protect my head meat from the aliens!

Also, Father Dowd, (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407267)

as much as I hate to say it, also in light of the happenings in Iran:

Probably the freest kind of cell phone you could have, which the Iranian people do not seem to have, is any cell phone securely taped to a Smith & Wesson.

Re:Also, Father Dowd, (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407845)

Right because that's what will build the sort of popular uprising that has overthrown numerous governments in the past (including the last Iranian form of government)... armed rebellion.

There is nothing the Iranian government would love more right now than a bunch of armed self righteous knuckle draggers to start shooting police and militiamen. You instantly change it from a popular peaceful movement into a legitimate civil war and the Government has full authority to start fighting said war. The Iranian government is losing the respect of its people more and more every day due to its heavy handed over reaction to peaceful and unarmed civilians. But by all means break out the ol' Smith and Wesson and start shooting government officials. I'm certain the ensuing civil war will result in a peaceful and democratic government on top. Not a charismatic warlord.

Soviet Union, Ukraine, India, Iran 1979... the list goes on and on of successful popular uprisings and bloodless transitions of power. It's often then violent transitions which result in unstable and repressive replacement regimes.

Re:Also, Father Dowd, (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407955)

Who said anything about shooting government officials? Or anything of the sort? I think you tried to read far too much into this than I ever meant.

Re:Also, Father Dowd, (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408089)

Who said anything about shooting government officials? Or anything of the sort? I think you tried to read far too much into this than I ever meant

Probably the freest kind of cell phone you could have, which the Iranian people do not seem to have, is any cell phone securely taped to a Smith & Wesson

Sorry my bad. I didn't understand that Freedom by Smith and Wesson meant you would use the gun to fire small little 140 character notes taped to bullets out to friends a few streets down. Silly me jumping to the conclusion that you meant use the gun to shoot people. Again. My bad.

I'm always forgetting the about the less conventional uses of firearms in revolutions. (They also make a great place to hide messages since cops won't look down the barrel!)

Re:Also, Father Dowd, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28408045)

Yea, Like Tiananmen Square.

Idea about sending old digital cameras (5, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407331)

On a related note, earlier today I was wondering if it would be useful if it would be useful to send old digital cameras to places like Iran and other regions where oppression is occurring (perhaps distributed by international media offices?). Just counting myself, I have 3-4 pocket-size digital cameras which are sitting around collecting dust. As a result, many more of the protesters and bystanders would have cameras, and would be able to capture evidence of violence and oppression. Even if they don't have internet proxy access (or a computer), they could give their memory card to someone who does have one. Of course, there's already some videos being leaked out [blogspot.com] (NOTE: videos are quite graphic) in defiance of the regime, but increasing the number of available photos and videos by an order of magnitude or two would be a game-changer.

Of course, I have no idea how you'd go about starting to organize something like that, but I wanted to seed the idea in case it's worthwhile.

Re:Idea about sending old digital cameras (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407527)

How would this be a "game changer"? Did Tienanmen Square not just have its 20th anniversary? Of course the chinese suppressed what happened, but I'm sure as a society they still know the truth even though they don't speak of it in schools. For what it matters, what effect did the event have on our interaction with China? It seems to me like greed over ideals won the day as usual. When people start getting killed en masse they usually give in. Nobody really wants to die. Society has become soft. A few hundred years ago, whole populations would gladly give up their lives for a cause they believed in. Now it seems like that this number is down to a select few.

Re:Idea about sending old digital cameras (3, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407975)

Society has become soft. A few hundred years ago, whole populations would gladly give up their lives for a cause they believed in. Now it seems like that this number is down to a select few.

I think it's more cultural than temporal.

I've been reading that Martyrdom is an important aspect of Iranian culture and mythology. One of their 'founding fathers' was martyred by a tyrannical government. As such there is great respect and emotional power to someone being killed by the government in a protest. The Iranian Revolution was largely a series of ever growing 'vigils' for the fallen martyrs taken and killed by the Government. Every person killed brings more people to the next vigil. Popular opinion finally completely overwhelms the government as it simply becomes an armed but unrecognized squatter by the people. Iran is also very young. Youngsters tend to be more active and impatient for culture and political change.

China on the other hand is/was a demographically older nation. They also have a strong tradition of respect for authority even in democratic nations such as Japan. As such I would extrapolate that there isn't the same sort of tradition of rebellion and insurrection as we have in Western Cultures. The Tienanmen demonstraters were largely students. They were largely unorganized and they didn't have the organization or precedent for change. It was a case of a culture being inconducive to revolution. But it's largely a question of details. The same eastern "people before self" mantra presents itself dramatically differently in Buddhist nations where self immolation is an accepted form of demonstration. The ego matters so little that people relatively readily give their lives for a cause (after all if you're just going to reincarnate what does it really matter?) (On an off topic this creates very very interesting traffic systems.)

If you go back a few hundreds years in Western Cultures we also had dramatically less stomach for insurrection and opposition. The state was endorsed by God. We were good God fearing people and to question the state was the question the divine.

I suspect the reason people are less ready to give their lives in western cultures is because our governments are relatively stable Go back a little over 100 years and I think you would find that Americans of the North and South were more than ready to give up their lives by the hundreds of thousands for a cause.

Also patriotism sent millions of young men over seas not more than 50 years ago filled with nationalistic pride. I'm not quite certain when you think we became 'soft'.

Re:Idea about sending old digital cameras (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408181)

I was thinking about the brave men and women who served in World War II. I'm guessing if there were a greater threat to our nation that many people would again join the fight, but in actuality, I think war on that sort of massive level is probably something for the history books for foreseeable future. Anyways this is probably for the best. Can you imagine the emo kids getting drafted?

I think the south wanted the war a lot more than the north. Its not hard to get a bunch of southerners drunk and pissed off, and they all have guns. I can see some of their arguments having merit though.

Re:Idea about sending old digital cameras (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408251)

"A few hundred years ago, whole populations would gladly give up their lives for a cause they believed in." Examples, please. I'm unaware of any such populations. I was under the impression it was always a small number of intelligent, determined, devoted people who brought about change. Like the US revolution. The majority were against the war. A minority brought it about anyway, brilliantly.

OLPC or video camera (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407347)

not sure how traceable this would be. could you spoof the mac address.

I would also be more likely to film things with one of the very cheap usb video cameras and upload at an internet cafe. not sure how trackable they are, and the quality is not going to be what you get with a Flip or something like that but you could buy with cash, film and toss if need be

ham radio (1)

swell (195815) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407351)

For now, ham radio is probably the best communication device in times of dexterity.

Automatically translation from Farsi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407367)

I am using Twitter World - Breaking Borders [bit.ly] to auto translate Farsi Tweets to English on my iPhone. Cool. Helps. Helps

Go with the Flow (3, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407393)

Don't avoid the cellular networks just because the government controls them. If you go on your own frequency, they will just jam it. What you want to do is to piggy back on something else that would be too expensive for them to shut down. This might be too contrarian but I say use the cellular network but disguise your traffic so they can't sniff it out. In the end that leaves them with only the option of shutting down the entire cellular network, which they wouldn't be able to function without as well. Remember when Blackberry lost the patent lawsuit and how businesses and the government started freaking out? Use their tools against them. Hop on their frequencies. Guerrilla tactics! Blend in.

The back room boys (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407399)

Of course, some sort of plausible deniability encryption a la Truecrypt would also be good, in case the secret police catch you with your phone.

"We have ways of making you talk."

Plausible denial means nothing to the guy with a set of alligator clips, an old-school inverter and a honking big battery.

The real spy hates spy tech.

Each additional layer of complication introduces new risks. If he can send a message in the clear he will. What he really needs is a method or a system so familiar and mundane that no one gives it a second thought.
         

Plausible deniability (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407741)

Remind me to plant 4.3GB from /dev/random to some obscure location of your hard drive and label it newworldorder.iso.truecryptX2, then call the guys who hire the men with the alligator clips.

Just for grins, I'll encrypt the file with TrueCrypt using your wife's maiden name as the password. Since you obviously had one layer of encryption and since the decrypted file looks random, obviously there's a second layer of encryption.

"What's the password to the 2nd layer"

"What second layer? I have no idea what you are talking about"

"We have ways of making you talk."

Hedge Your Bet (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407431)

Just had an idea, you should communicate with each other in the open via botnets and spammers. Chances are that someone you want to communicate with will get the email. Use stenography and spam them across the Internet. Or if you just want to spread the word, spam in plaintext. Either you get your message through or the spam problem gets solved permanently. Either way you come out ahead.

Seriously? (2, Insightful)

PNutts (199112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407491)

These are the governments who put taps on undersea cables. They have the best and brightest people working to hide their communcations while at the same time discover the other guy's covert communications. Iran is making nukes. You think they (or the countries that support them) can't build a receiver? Hell, I have a cell phone jammer from China and I'm nobody.

Web 2.0 Version of The Iraq Baby Incubator Hoax (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407529)

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3589/us-iraq-lie.html

(not the best site but it will do)

It worked for the first US attack on Iraq.

The fake WMDs stories worked for the second US attack on Iraq.

It shouldn't be the least bit surprising that the US is once again up to the same old shit - just the technology has been upgraded.

Faulty Premise (1)

asackett (161377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407567)

"If the cell phone is the new tool of freedom..." is a faulty premise so the rest is irrelevant.

The only effective "tool of freedom" is the one that denies your oppressor the ability to oppress. In most cases, this is effective violence executed properly against the proper target(s). Any communication that does not serve this purpose is just so much noise.

Re:Faulty Premise (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407761)

The only effective "tool of freedom" is the one that denies your oppressor the ability to oppress.

OK, how about "the desire to be free is the new, er, not so new tool of freedom?"

where are all the big brother whiners? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407697)

the future is not big brother, ie, the govt surveils you everywhere

the future is little brother: it is your fellow citizen who surveil you, completely uncontrollably

Today is the Day (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407707)

With this stories posting my beloved /. has officially jumped the shark.

Re:Today is the Day (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407853)

Again?

Border crossing. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407713)

"If the cell phone is the new tool of freedom, what would the best 'freedom handset' contain?"

All the phone is is the recorder of acts. The freedom comes from dissemination and in that regard the phone is ineffective. More could be accomplished with a flash card hand carried across the borders than relying on infrastructure that can be controlled by a hostile government.

phone-to-phone text message relays (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407719)

Science Fiction author David Brin has already suggested installing peer-to-peer relays for text messages on mobile phones, as a means to ensure emergency communications could be maintained in case of a partial or complete breakdown of the wireless networks. Such a system would have been quite useful, for example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the bandwidth is so small as to be almost unnoticeable.

Of course, encryption would also be nice, but this would be a good start, to establish such a standard.

Note that the Nextel network already allows peer-to-peer calls, although it does not use phones as relays.

Security (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407745)

The best possible way to secure your communications is through the use of pre-paid cell phones because there are virtually no records of your transactions nor communications. Simply get a new sim card periodically and add some air time. You won't be able to be easily tracked and you could list a bogus address with the cell company. It is lower tech and whole lot easier.

Real Digital Freedom. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407763)

I have a dream for REAL digital freedom:

An open source wifi phone. Hardware, Software, everything controllable and redesignable by the consumer. With a standard USB port for charging and computer connection.

Every house having a wifi router, all connected to each other in an adhoc p2p network replacing the existing corporate infrastructure.

Everyone could have free anonymous and uncensored internet and phone calls anywhere, at any time.

Fuck wire tapping, fuck Cox, fuck Charter, fuck Apple, and fuck Verizon.

You don't need a phone (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407859)

You don't need a phone, you need a television studio, preferably one previously owned by the government. With so many people demonstrating it should be relatively easy to occupy one and spread your message.

Democracy (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408005)

Let's see, the Iranian people can choose between a cronyistic theocrat or a puppet of the U.S. elite. Sound familiar?

The best phone would be one that prevented the Iranian people from getting so worked up over sham elections in the first place -- and that's probably no phone at all.

Knowledge is power, and knowledge doesn't come from SMS (although, on rare occasions, data [informatio...gement.com] might).

Forget Truecrypt (1)

niteshifter (1252200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28408207)

Of course, some sort of plausible deniability encryption a la Truecrypt would also be good, in case the secret police catch you with your phone.

Truecrypt - a product I'm right fond of and use - isn't going to be able to stand up to the cryptanalysis that some police forces will bring to bear. Their notion of plausible deniability differs: They'll believe you're telling the truth just before (or just after) your death by acts of torture.

I think a blend of well established practice and tech will serve them better. In the form of microSD passed hand to hand or via drops. They're small, elude most metal detectors and can easily hidden or easily disposed of should the need arise.

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