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Startup Provides Secure Calls For Egypt

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the say-hi-for-me dept.

Communications 84

An anonymous reader writes "As the technology used to fuel democracy protests in Egypt continues to evolve, Whisper Systems, the company founded by well-known security researcher Moxie Marlinspike, just released encrypted calling and text messaging applications into Egypt to help keep protesters safe from surveillance."

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BIG PENIS GIGANTOS (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168836)

BIG PENIS GIGANTOS. Hah hah hah yeah man, big cockin'.

PENIS FOREVER!!! !!! !!!

Re:BIG PENIS GIGANTOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35170692)

dusthillresident@gmail.com

The way things are going... (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168842)

They way things are going we may need that here in the USA sometime in the next few years.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168978)

There has been a need for this forever. Just look at the rate that people go through disposible cellphones. Those roving wiretap laws are a real PITA for people involved in certain types of transactional businesses. Instead of having to come up on a new burner every couple of days, they just can rock the 'droid and get around the LEOs.

Re:The way things are going... (0)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168994)

They way things are going we may need that here in the USA sometime in the next few years.

Don't tell me. Some dude with a blackboard told you about impending dictatorship?

I find nothing as amusing as the rage of the entitled. You live in the most free society on Earth (or so you're fond of bragging anyway) but as soon as the party that you don't support takes power or your income tax bill goes up a little (it probably hasn't, by the way, Obama has lowered middle class taxes, you're welcome) you're crying about being "oppressed". Yeah, right. Try telling that to people who have been unable to oust their dictator for 30 years and got hit with tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammo, and speeding vehicles [youtube.com] when they tried to do something about it. Try telling that to people in other Middle Eastern countries who get the crap kicked out of them in the street when they protest about blatantly rigged elections. Try telling that to women marooned in Islamic theocratic dictatorships and prevented from going to school.

Americans being oppressed by their own government? Ha! Gimme a freaking break! Get out of your suburban bore-hole and travel a little in this world before you start complaining about the evils of government.

Re:The way things are going... (0)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169054)

A rather uncharitable comment about the people who have been financing and supplying you with arms and ammunition for centuries (well, almost), "Fianna Fail man". Surely you're aware of the sympathies of the American people toward your cause, right? So chill, FF man. And up the IRA. Whoever they are these days...

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169128)

Go learn the difference between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein and then get back to me with some sort of relevant point.

Re:The way things are going... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169218)

If it is cheap and easy to use, why not use it anyway? There are plenty of unsavoury people in the world. I'm sure some of them work for the government. Most of them don't. I am always interested in a service that helps protect me from anyone that might want to invade my privacy, now or in the future.

I'm not going to go out and buy an Android phone for a service like this, but think the idea behind the application is a good one. I hope to see more of these kinds of services.

USA is the 17th most free country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169220)

This posting was made for people being able to see two parts of an argument. If you are not able to understand that issues have many facets be free to skip it.

USA made number 17 on the Economists democracy index. And that was just barely. The ones who wrote this index was actually partial to USA. They gave USA a good rating because of the high participation in political parties. They should have been ranked lower because the voter-participation is low in USA. So, there are some points that could be argued. Surveillance is one genuine concern from Americans. Civil rights is another. There is much room for improvements. Actually Canada is considered a better democracy then USA. But, when people talk about the most democratic countries there is much propaganda about this and that country being better then the other one. I guess it is a measuring-contest. Also, I think we should start to factor in if a country has democratic or non-democratic influence on other countries.

On the other hand USA is a real democracy. It is one of the countries the 1/8th of the world population who have real democracy lives in. There are elites in USA, but some of the elites change place from time to time. It is possible to have a very good life in USA. But, then you have to have the right choices and take the right choices. It depends on luck and work. All countries have some of that.

Re:USA is the 17th most free country (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169742)

"They should have been ranked lower because the voter-participation is low in USA."

The reason voter participation is low is simple: the two-party system encourages anyone in the middle, and anyone with half a brain, to stay home or else hold their nose for insane choices.

I support the US's military spending - after all, if we didn't, we couldn't be the world's policeman and cover 99% of the UN's peacekeeping bills with our own troops.
I support the US's public education system and think it needs more money for improvement.

I support reasonable taxation - not "OMG take everyone's money" but not "OMG NO TAXES EVER."

But what are my choices?

I could vote Dummycrat, and get a party that loves education but treats the military like the plague and wants to hamstring our soldiers.
Or I could vote Retardican/PeeTardier, and and get a party that loves the military and will see my relatives in the service well funded, protected and armed, but at the same time wants to eliminate the Department of Education and throw our kids to the wolves.

And as a side order, I get to watch these two sets of assholes argue over "gay marriage" and "abortion", when quite frankly I don't give a damn because those will sort themselves out societally without either set of assholes having to impose their way 5 minutes from tomorrow.

That's why people don't vote in America. Because the "choices" are fucking pointless.

Re:USA is the 17th most free country (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35170466)

"we couldn't be the world's policeman and cover 99% of the UN's peacekeeping bills with our own troops."

Not quite, you never pay up, even Ted Turner, 'left commie bastard' as you might call him had to pay a billion of your debt out of his own pocket.

You forgot to mention the 3rd party in US politics (1)

WarmNoodles (899413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35170740)

The extremist in the media in collaboration with sheep voters, progressive socialist unions new world order folks.

Some seem to think the 3rd party is an expedient low effort choice, all it requires is absolute commitment to apathy.

These people are not free, they vote as a mindless block and cripple any real democratic debate.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169360)

I find nothing as amusing as the rage of the entitled. You live in the most free society on Earth (or so you're fond of bragging anyway)

Actually our government likes to say that. Left-wing types fearing a US dictatorship usually do not.

Try telling that to people who have been unable to oust their dictator for 30 years and got hit with tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammo, and speeding vehicles when they tried to do something about it.

Yeah, but when our government tries to help out with ousting dictators, we get a lot of bad press for it and are told not to interfere, by pretty much everyone (including the left wing types who fear a US dictatorship).

Americans being oppressed by their own government? Ha! Gimme a freaking break! Get out of your suburban bore-hole and travel a little in this world before you start complaining about the evils of government.

The fact that other governments suck FAR worse does not mean that our government is not a problem and is not getting worse.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169504)

Yeah, but when our government tries to help out with ousting dictators, we get a lot of bad press for it and are told not to interfere, by pretty much everyone (including the left wing types who fear a US dictatorship).

How many dictators have you actually ousted lately? Only one or two that I can think of, which is good, but you botched the follow-up operations so badly that your troops are still in the middle of those messes. On the other hand you have a history of ousting democratic governments and installing dictators in their place. Iran, Chile, Haiti, the list goes on, all the way up to propping up Mubarak himself for decades. You've installed or propped up more dictators than you've removed.

Re:The way things are going... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169440)

If you think fearing the government is partisan, then you are part of the problem.

"Try telling that to people who have been unable to oust their dictator for 30 years"

Among the many many reasons to fear the US government, is the fact that they just *love* supporting dictators like those.

But oh no, I totally see your point. If one government is oppressive, that must mean that all others are totally benign and it's a bad thing to call them out for their bullshit! Stalin was a fine chap, just look at what *other people* were doing at the time!

Retard.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169534)

The guy's comment was that "the way things are going" (i.e. health insurance companies prevented from operating the real death panels, as opposed to the fictitious ones concocted by the Alaskan bimbo-in-chief) we are going to need social media to stage a revolution in the USA. "Retard" indeed!

Re:The way things are going... (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169802)

No. his comment was "the way things are going".

"health insurance companies prevented from operating the real death panels, as opposed to the fictitious ones concocted by the Alaskan bimbo-in-chief" is what you, being a presumptuous fuck, assumed he was referring to.

Try leaving your basement for once in your life and maybe you'll realize that in the real world, despite what American media would like you to believe, political beliefs are commonly more nuanced and varied than just "hurrr durr palin" vs. "hurr durr obama"

I've seen fucking children preform more sophisticated political analysis than you. Particularly on slashdot, automatically assuming that if someone distrusts their government they must have partisan motives is just plain stupid.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35178804)

He talks about us heading towards a dictatorship in the most spoiled-brat country in the world and you expect me to believe that he might not be a Fox-watching mad hatter? Gimme a fucking break! I've listened to these pricks for long enough now that I can smell them a mile away.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35183870)

Binary "us vs them" politics? check
Base your worldview off american media? check
Presumptuous cunt? check

You are more stereotypically "American" than most redneck flaghumpers I know.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169572)

Okaaay.

So basically what you are saying, is that since we have it better than most places in the world, but still worse than others, that we have no right to complain? That because the US has not *yet* started physically oppressing its people at a large scale (it does do so at a small scale in notable situations) that we cannot complain about any of the losses of our freedoms and violations of our rights *till* it happens?

How does that make any sense? It's like a doctor saying to wait till your appendix explodes before surgery, or for that cancer to spread a little bit more before you get treatment. Worse yet, that our rage and impatience to seek treatment is *entitlement*. What dicks we are dude.....

Recognizing that the US is heading for a totalitarian dictatorship with all the abuses you mentioned is not a partisan or divisive act in of itself. Neither is preparing yourself with the same survival tools and tactics in cyberspace that some people prepare for in meatspace.

I feel the same way about our Freedoms, Privacy, and Anonymity and I have prepared myself with these tools for secure and anonymous communications and support projects and organizations that do. Guess what? I am not a Democrat or a Republican, or a Teabagger, and I could care less if Obama was not born in the US.

P.S - I have never bragged about the US being free. I know better.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169822)

It's like a doctor saying to wait till your appendix explodes before surgery, or for that cancer to spread a little bit more before you get treatment.

No, it's like waiting for your doctor to say that there actually is any indication that you need surgery before going in for surgery. Going under the knife when there's fuck all wrong with you is the act of a hypochondriac. People like you are political hypochondriacs who think they're in the same boat as the Warsaw Jews just because a black dude got elected President.

Recognizing that the US is heading for a totalitarian dictatorship with all the abuses you mentioned is not a partisan or divisive act in of itself.

I think "deluded paranoia" would be a better description.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169938)

Why are you still on Obama? Just because somebody complains about our loss of freedoms over here does not mean we are anti-Obama. I still don't get that. Most people I know concerned about rights and freedoms are not anti-Democrat, anti-Socialism, or anti-Obama.

You mentioned "black"... what the fuck does that have to do with it? So all the people complaining about our loss of freedoms are now racist as well?

Deluded Paranoia? Right. You tell me I am deluded after understanding the Patriot Act, how it has been abused, and just exactly what has happened to people since.

You're unbelievable to sit there and state categorically that all of our concerns over surveillance are baseless..... in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171114)

Don't feed the trolls

Re:The way things are going... (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171416)

"Some dude with a blackboard told you about impending dictatorship?...You live in the most free society on Earth" The blackboard brigade would like to keep it that way. If history has taught us anything it is to (1) be ever vigilant about those who would try to remove our freedoms, and (2) never take your freedom for granted.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35178842)

The blackboard brigade belong in an asylum. They are paranoid delusional idiots. It's okay to say that.

Re:The way things are going... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174772)

We're not the worst!
We're not the worst!

Yay!

Re:The way things are going... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169174)

In the US the NSA is your telco. Copper, optical, sat, dial up, they will deep packet inspect it all.
The unique encrypted traffic will glow and any average user will stand out.
A fusion centre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center [wikipedia.org] would get your details and the vans would be on the way.
Also remember what this software runs on. Nokia Siemens was to Iran as a that nice telco/web 2.0 .com is to the USA?

Mubarak Speech transcript plagiarized! (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171068)

Here's the transcript of mubarack speech tonight:

You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
You wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

We've known each other for so long
Your heart's been aching but
You're too shy to say it
Inside we both know what's been going on
We know the game and we're gonna play it

http://tinyurl.com/2g9mqh [tinyurl.com]

Holy smokes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35171124)

It's amazing how close that is to what he actually said!

Re:Mubarak Speech transcript plagiarized! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174632)

Never thought that song would actually become a non-troll post. Uncanny match to the speech. Plus the whole set up of the crowd expecting his resignation was a Rickroll.

Re:The way things are going... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35171652)

May need? Start encrypting your calls and messages today. Don't wait for any public announcement. That will never come.

Cell Phones (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168904)

Can they do something about those unwanted text messages sent to cell phones? Too many of the new cell phone users in Arab countries are getting prematurely detonated by unwelcome messages.

Re:Cell Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35168944)

I just installed redphone and textsecure from Android marketplace. It installed on my 2.1 and looks as if I can make a call. I am in the US.

Problem is... (2)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35168942)

In the places you need to use this the most just using this app will be grounds for a head kicking. The classic "You're trying to maintain your own privacy/secrecy, you must be up to something bad."

Re:Problem is... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169354)

Further, there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

Secure also means Operational.

Re:Problem is... (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#35170258)

Further, there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

Secure also means Operational.

RedPhone is just one piece of a larger puzzle [imagicity.com] that could create some very exciting stories for freedom-lovers everywhere:

We need to disintermediate [wikimedia.org] the network. It's an ugly duckling of a word, but cutting out the middle man matters more now than ever.

As long as the cables, wires and frequencies over which we communicate are susceptible to being controlled [imagicity.com] , curtailed or even disconnected when the things we say -or the way we say them- become upsetting, we will find ourselves increasingly confined.

As I said during an Internet policy session yesterday, if you ask anyone -anyone- whether there should be limits on Behaviour X on the Internet, the answer will always be a resounding Yes. That's not a problem in and of itself, because X is usually anti-social and contrary to the public good. The problem is that anything capable of curtailing Behaviour X can be brought to bear on Behaviours A through W as well.

The only way out of this is to provide the technical means to do what we have always done in democratic societies: Keep our private discussions private and our public discussions free.

RedPhone (well, the ZRTP protocol, anyway) is a pretty important component of that.

Re:Problem is... (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171886)

> there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be
> as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

Electronic communication. There are more ways to (securely) communicate than calling and texting.
The usual paradigm also applies here: The more complicated and high-tech a system you're relying on is, the higher the likelihood of it failing (or deliberately being made to fail).

Re:Problem is... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35177704)

True there are other means of secure communications, but the man in the street can not use these.

Re:Problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35217082)

and just what are these mysterious other means of communication?

Re:Problem is... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35217350)

Ham radio
SAT Phones
Heliographs
Direct Dial up to a foreign ISP

Once the phones and the net go down, Joe in the street is dead in the water.
Further its illegal to encrypt ham traffic in most countries.

Re:Problem is... (1)

carlzum (832868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169616)

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the people that need it in Egypt today to ban it after they're in power.

Re:Problem is... (1)

Hellrayzor32 (1362975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171118)

I've used the Red Phone app (Whisper Systems) on Android, and to me, it seems to provide only a half measure of encryption, in that one can easily identify the source.

"RedPhone uses your normal mobile number for addressing, so there's no need to have yet another identifier or account name;" [http://www.whispersys.com]

Seems to me, like the above poster stated, this can easily single you out for a head-kicking.

Of course, the government could always pass a law outlawing civilians from possessing any type of encryption technology. The Egyptian government is on the verge of collapse, and as anyone who has ever watched a war movie knows, the first thing you want to do is to hinder the enemy's communication abilities; which is exactly what they did by shutting everything down. But, one has to fight in a nice way now (unless you are the US) in order to not piss off the western allies, so their next move would probably be something more subtle.

Re:Problem is... (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171992)

it seems to provide only a half measure of encryption, in that one can easily identify the source.

Phone companies are already required to keep logs of who you are communicating, but not the content of the message, so from a government intrusion point of view, it's keeping the bit they don't have secret without some effort on the governments part. I suppose if you were texting a mistress and didn't want your wife to know about her existance as well as not knowing about the contents of the messages it might be an issue.

Re:Problem is... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173900)

Well, if they've got nothing to hide, why would they object to the secret police looking at it?

What color is that hat? (4, Interesting)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169010)

An odd story. The company (Whisper Systems) makes software (for Android systems only, apparently) that supports VoIP and SMS encryption. But it also has a history of rolling over for repressive governments, providing them with user data, and allowing them (well, Egypt's government, anyway) to send propaganda messages via their systems. It sounds like this "beta" software is also available in the US. But what good does it do to use software from a company that will just rat you out to whatever government snaps its fingers?

Re:What color is that hat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169090)

[Citation Desired]

You mind posting a link to somebody claiming they send user data?

Re:What color is that hat? (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169102)

RTFA

Re:What color is that hat? (1)

nigelo (30096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169172)

No, I think you may be mistaken: TFA says that Vodaphone was the company involved with handing over information to the govt.

"...a Vodafone official in 2009 confessed that the company was legally required to give up data on a group of Egyptian dissidents in 2008 who had pulled down a large poster of president Hosni Mubarak. Last week the company said that it had been forced by the Egyptian government to use its network to send out propaganda text messages to users. "

Re:What color is that hat? (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169942)

Yes, you're correct. I RTFAd way too fast. I apologize.

Re:What color is that hat? (1)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169182)

RTFA

You should take your own advice methinks. If you did, you'd notice that Vodafone is the company responsible for sending mass texts (since it's their network...) and giving information to the Egyptian "authorities". Whisper Systems has absolutely nothing to do with that, and if you have been paying attention [slashdot.org] recently you'd know quite clearly that Moxie is the last person who'd be giving info to a government of any sort.

Re:What color is that hat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169434)

Whisper Systems is not the company that provided user data; an Egyptian telco did that.

Re:What color is that hat? (4, Informative)

0x000000 (841725) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169778)

Whisper Systems is an US based company that has never provided user data to Egypts government, nor has it allowed them to send messages through their system. You are thinking about Vodafone which was forced to do so by the government.

Re:What color is that hat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35170312)

As others have said, the story refers to Vodafone giving up data to the Egyptian government, not Whisper Systems. Read the paragraph about giving up user data again.

The idea is that because companies like Vodafone give up user data, encryption apps like the one that Whisper Systems makes are necessary for privacy. It's not that complicated.

Existential threats=no restraint (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169036)

When a governmental regime is on the verge of collapse, they tend to apply their laws a lot more loosely. Especially with a state security apparatus such as what exists in Egypt (since they've been doing things like this for the past 30 years) they won't even bother trying to break into communications. All you have to do is download it, or have your traffic intercepted. If they are able to tell you are using it (doesn't matter if you are calling your friends to plan a protest, asking how your mom's operation went, or even just voting for American Idol) they will pick you up. And if they do pick you up, it takes a lot less technological know-how to break a person than it does breaking an encryption.

Re:Existential threats=no restraint (1)

amacbride (156394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35170156)

ObXKCD: Security [xkcd.com]

Can they guarantee encryption? (1)

afrojade (1943812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169068)

Else this will be another Haystack. People's lives are potentially at stake here.

Re:Can they guarantee encryption? (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169672)

Moxie has a way better track record than the Haystack folks.

Plus, he's in the "extra search club" at airports supposedly for having been in Jacob Appelbaum's address book. That means he either has something good, or the feds are incompetent idiots.

Oh wait.

Or maybe that's exactly what they want us to think. Or all of the above.

Re:Can they guarantee encryption? (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174982)

I believe that Haystack's encryption was proprietary. That usually = bad. Redphone's encryption uses SRTP which uses AES by default http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Real-time_Transport_Protocol [wikipedia.org] . They claim they will have the source code up on their site soon. I wonder if the int'l will be the same as the usa only version. Exporting non-military encryption from the USA: http://www.bis.doc.gov/encryption/enc_faqs.htm [doc.gov]

Overstating the role of new media (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169112)

...the technology used to fuel democracy protests in Egypt...

The subtext of all this ubiquitous commentary is that technology invented in the USA is helping these poor plebs in less advanced countries to win their freedom and hence become more American-like.

It is, of course, a load of bollox.

The role of new media has been picked up by the mainstream western press and held up as if it would never have happened without this technology and hence allows the west to take credit for this uprising. The fact that the era of cheap food has come to an end [economist.com] , the demographics of the Arab world and the middle east has produced a massive generation of young people [newsflavor.com] , and people are willing to organise by any means available including good old fashioned word-of-mouth doesn't have the same soundbite-friendly ring to it.

Re:Overstating the role of new media (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169248)

Damn right. Almost every story I see these days crediting social networks would have happened without cellphones or the internet... Hell, without print for that matter. Sure, they may have made it marginally easier, but if enough people are upset about something, they'll organize the good old fashioned way.

Something like 30% of folks in Egypt are illiterate. Fat lot of good twitter is going to be doing them. I assume some of them are among the protesters?

Re:Overstating the role of new media (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35170176)

...the technology used to fuel democracy protests in Egypt...

The role of new media has been picked up by the mainstream western press and held up as if it would never have happened without this technology [...]

"fuel democracy" != "sole cause of uprising"
"Western" technology has been a contributor to the protests across the region - even if not used directly by the people on the streets.

Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?
Would muhammed sixpack in egypt have known about the unrest in tunisia and other areas? [wikipedia.org]
Would we have any other sources of information other than official government mouthpieces?
Would the ThreeLetterAgencies have as many places to inject propaganda?

Or, to take examples from history, would 1989 Tiananmen Square or 1970 Kent State have turned out differently if the military forces were aware that the protesters had a direct connection to the ear of international media?

Re:Overstating the role of new media (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35176436)

Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?

Actually, I would say yes. In fact, I would say the internet makes it worse. It's one thing that newspapers do right that the internet does wrong - it attempts to be broad-spectrum. I read more about Egypt through my daily newspapers than I do online, and I know lots of people who gave up newspapers for their RSS readers and the like.

Given that in a broadsheet, it doesn't take much extra time to gloss over an article as your eye scans a page, you're more likely to see headlines and interesting pictures. On Google News, you'll see headlines, and if they're not interesting, you probably won't click it. So at best you might hear something, but that's it.

Internet news is great - it's timely and informative, but it's pretty much a pull information medium. If it doesn't interest me directly, I don't read it.

So I also read newspapers, watch the news on TV, and listen to news on the radio to hear about stuff I missed because it doesn't seem interesting.

In our quest to replace "traditional media" with the internet, it turns out that there's still a role for traditional media - it provides a means to become more worldly by presenting topics that one would not normally read about or take the effort. But scanning the newspaper page, watching the news and listening help inform on other topics because so little effort is required (i.e., traditional media is "push" - the information right there and all you have to do is process it or glance over or something).

I suppose it's sad that some people are glad to be rid of traditional media and only hear the news they are interested in (e.g., technology) and live inside that little bubble of knowledge. I personally wouldn't read about Egypt online, or sports, but I hear news about it through traditional sources to make me at least know what's going on.

History repeats itself, and there's a large group of people who seem content in missing out repetitions because their narrow views meant they missed news of the event the first time around.

Re:Overstating the role of new media (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35178704)

"fuel democracy" != "sole cause of uprising"

My comment was a reference to the general tone of the discussion in the west where new media is cited as being the sole cause of the uprising.

Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?

Yes. Newspapers and television are quite capable of disseminating information.

Would muhammed sixpack in egypt have known about the unrest in tunisia and other areas?

I'm pretty sure he would. If he didn't get it from Al Jazeera he'd have gotten it from somewhere.

Would we have any other sources of information other than official government mouthpieces?

Yes. Western news agencies are actually pretty good at getting into the thick of it and getting the information out. Just because American broadcasters don't give a shit about the outside world doesn't mean nobody else does.

Or, to take examples from history, would 1989 Tiananmen Square or 1970 Kent State have turned out differently if the military forces were aware that the protesters had a direct connection to the ear of international media?

This may have escaped your attention, but the Tiananmen Square massacre was actually covered by the world's media long before the internet became popular. The forces knew full well that the world was watching and they opened fire regardless.

Re:Overstating the role of new media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35172346)

Not so sure. Word of mouth is what dicators can fairly easily keep in check. Yes, there will be talk of bad things that happened running around in backrooms. Some will think of resisting, protesting, or whatever. But it will be hard to distinguish truth from rumor. And when you talk too much, you will eventually (or even soon) talk to a spy or sympathizer of the dictator and be stopped in some way. If you try to organize any concrete actions like a demonstration, there will be a very active effort to stop the organizers, any known regime critics will be put behind bars, police in civil and spies will be everywhere including that "sleeping" spies awaken. People then usually will be too afraid to continue to talk and organizing anything will fail.

The internet, if available, lets people reach all people at the same time. If you have proof that something bad happened, "everyone" will know immediately. Actions can happen really soon, before even the regime's police is deployed. And the people that talk cannot be stopped from talking, you'd have to turn off or block countless servers outside the governments control (many of which will be run by expatriates and people that ran from the regimes) - something which most governments can't do. Besides there's a modicum of anonymity for authors and protest movement leaders - they can remain unknown until they choose to be known (maybe at the point where they can show up in force with their fellow protesters). They hence can keep leaking information or what not.

So I say the internet is very strongly helping, and yes, the current protests may not have happened without it - all the organization might have been interrupted otherwise. I however also think it is not Facebook or such newfangled social media thing specifically that was important. Any kind of forum or blog type of thing outside the respective government's control works.

Re:Overstating the role of new media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35187302)

there is also a good chance that without the financial support stemming from the USA, Mubarak might have had to walk the plank a looooooong time ago... what we're seeing here is classic "whe are great, whe are the people of the chosen ones, the world couldn't do without us" propaganda, amazingly similar to NSDAP propaganda in the 30s...

Wonder why the powers that be... (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169208)

are allowing this. It wouldn't be hard at all to put this down with a modern military (which Egypt more or less has). Maybe there's just be too much attention from the rest of the world & they're afraid of being 'liberated' by the US.

Iran was on the verge of that, but they got lucky and Micheal Jackson died. The distraction was enough for them to go back to oppressing their people, but unless the Pope buys it I don't think there's anyone else in the world now important enough to distract the entire planet at once.

Zfone, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169244)

What of Zfone [philzimmermann.com] ?

Encrypted email (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169374)

This is all good, but what about email? Shouldn't we be pushing more for the adoption of PGP and/or S/MIME?

And while we're at it, why does it seem like adoption of those technologies is actually dropping? FireGPG recently lost its GMail support and GMail closed the google labs bit that verified signatures.

Encrypted VoIP? Wow. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169468)

That was sarcasm. If people want encrypted VoIP, they'll load Skype. There are already umteen million Skype users, so there is an actual possibility there will be someone to use it with.

Wake me when they write an Android/iPhone app that can insert itself into a traditional voice call, encrypting the voice stream without using VoIP.

Activate it with a hash code (# or *) for a "push to go secure" bit.

Obviously it'll only work if the person on the other end has the same software, but not relying on a 3G data channel would be a major step forward.

Good luck with that, by the way. Short of giving everyone OpenMoko hockey-puck phones, good luck in finding a way to insert yourself into the voice stream on a traditional cell phone.

Re:Encrypted VoIP? Wow. (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#35172272)

That was sarcasm. If people want encrypted VoIP, they'll load Skype. There are already umteen million Skype users, so there is an actual possibility there will be someone to use it with.

The wonder of Android phones is that you can download and install software on it. Much like if you wish to speak to somebody on Skype both parties must install the requisite software, this also works with other software too.

Wake me when they write an Android/iPhone app that can insert itself into a traditional voice call, encrypting the voice stream without using VoIP.

Whilst you were asleep, traditional voice calls have switched from analogue to digital. It's now all packet based behind the scenes.

Obviously it'll only work if the person on the other end has the same software, but not relying on a 3G data channel would be a major step forward.

Eg Wifi? From here [h-online.com] : "In contrast to many other SIP programs, RedPhone does not use a SIP gateway for communication, but establishes a direct connection to the other (RedPhone) user via WLAN or UMTS."

Good luck with that, by the way. Short of giving everyone OpenMoko hockey-puck phones, good luck in finding a way to insert yourself into the voice stream on a traditional cell phone.

Forcing me to pay for calls rather than calling for free where I have wifi? This is an advantage?

Phillip.

Re:Encrypted VoIP? Wow. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35172446)

The wonder of Android phones is that you can download and install software on it. Much like if you wish to speak to somebody on Skype both parties must install the requisite software, this also works with other software too.

Which, if you note, I said "assuming the other person has the same software on the other end".

Whilst you were asleep, traditional voice calls have switched from analogue to digital. It's now all packet based behind the scenes.

While napping, I spent 5 years as a telecom engineer with Alcatel-Lucent. 2 of those years were as a CALEA specialist. That is, cell phone wiretapping.

In short, I know what I'm talking about and analog vs digital wasn't it.

My reference to OpenMoko was that it was the only phone that had a fully open hardware and software stack, including access to the telephony and GSM radio components. Even the Nokia N900 doesn't allow that.

The difficulty of inserting into the voice stream is in gaining access to it thru the firmware, not that it is digital packets.

Forcing me to pay for calls rather than calling for free where I have wifi? This is an advantage?

Considering GSM signals have, what, 10,000x more coverage around the globe than wifi? Yes. What factor does that rise to when looking at only OPEN wifi?

And, of course, almost every open, public wifi spot has some sort of must-submit-the-form authentication before allowing you on, so that brings wifi as the answer down to a number rapidly approaching zero.

For now. Super cheap, self configuring wifi mesh has a great deal of potential.

Re:Encrypted VoIP? Wow. (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#35177776)

Hopefully you will still see this reply (just seen yours). The chances of somebody having Skype are still small in overall terms. As a general rule, family/friends will agree on whatever is convenient at the time. Here in France our group of friends shifted as one to a certain operator as they allowed free mobile calls between that operator. If a group wish to talk to each other they may choose Fring, Skype, Wengo, or whatever else, and everybody will just install that app. It's quick and simple, and there is nothing to stop a smartphone having several installed at the same time.

I have also worked as a telecoms engineer, and did my masters in the subject, but my comment was my perhaps poor attempt at sarcasm rather than an aspersion on your qualifications. It was your choice of "traditional voice call" I objected to. Though there may be different trade-offs at the transport layer (quality, error correction, etc) it is still slinging packets around. The thrust of your argument appears to be that you want your encryption layer embedded at a lower level, and mine is that is no longer needed (and in fact disadvantageous).

GSM may have wider coverage but it can still carry packet data. The quality of call may deteriorate but that is the price you pay for your secure line. The authentication only occurs in the more advanced countries in my, albeit limited, travels so far where my calls are cheaper anyway. I learned to appreciate free Wifi nearly everywhere in my travels in Eastern Europe, after making voice calls and running up several hundred dollars in a day using my regular operator.

Self-configuring wifi mesh, femto cells, etc are great long term projects. VoIP with decent encryption is a good stop-gap for now.

Phillip.

Re:Encrypted VoIP? Wow. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35189494)

Thanks for the intelligent replies.

My main thrust was the ability to insert itself into the GSM stream because GSM 2/2.5G is so much more prevalent and thus has the potential for reaching a wider audience. While I have T-Mobile "4G" in the city where I work, they still don't have 3G coverage out in the rural area where I live. All I get is EDGE.

It has been 20+ years since I've been to Eastern Europe, and that was well before Wifi. In fact, there was this whole Iron Curtain thing at the time... :-)

I wonder what it would take to make super-cheap, voice/SMS cell phones with push button PK crypto. Some of the cheapest handsets out of China, modified with voice crypto and key exchange thru SMS.

Hmmm...

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169486)

A lot of other companies are providing VoIP encryption targeted for similar countries. One example is here: http://www.mizu-voip.com/Products/VoIPTunnel.aspx

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35169558)

xkcd has it right: http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com] . I can appreciate the appeal of such encryption software but it is also necessary to be cognizant of the situation. Encrypted communications do not keep you safe from the communications being observed. That fact that those communications are encrypted will likely make you a target of interest for those surveilling the communication. If you're dealing with thugs who don't like what you're doing, things are going to get down to basics pretty quickly. Neither subtlety nor sophistication nor cleverness will help you in such a situation.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174080)

Which is why it's important for people to use it even in the absence of a pressing need for privacy. If you never encrypt anything, then one day start doing it, of course that looks suspicious.

If you personally always encrypt things, then that looks less suspicious - there's no discernible change in activity. You can even use MORE encryption, and no one can tell without breaking the first code. But this is not ideal - since targeting the cryptonerds is a good first start to wiping out any potential dissidents under your nose.

But - if everyone's using strong encryption all the time - then you've got something. Nothing you can do is going to make intercepts on a large scale easier for you, in fact the problem becomes insurmountable on a large scale. Moreover, no government is going to be able to outlaw the use of such technology - if it's commonplace, then you can't mess with it without setting off everyones "holy shit tyranny!" buttons and having democratic elections oust them before the problem becomes severe.

How nice (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35169804)

Has he also released this for the people of Cuba?

Romatic Bull***t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35170468)

Democracy protest my backside - how naive can you yanks be......

This from a Pew poll taken recently in Egypt

Among highlights from the Pew poll:
  49% of Egyptians say Islam plays only a "small role" in public affairs under President Hosni Mubarak, while 95% prefer the religion play a "large role in politics."
  84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith.
  82% support stoning adulterers.
  77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.
  54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.
  54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.
  Nearly half support the terrorist group Hamas.
  30% have a favorable opinion of Hezbollah.
  20% maintain positive views of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.
  82% of Egyptians dislike the U.S. — the highest unfavorable rating among the 18 Muslim nations Pew surveyed.

Re:Romatic Bull***t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35170634)

Nope, you're going to have to cite your source, since it completely contradicts the Gallup polling conducted in Egypt over the last several years

Re:Romatic Bull***t (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35170802)

Flat out wrong.

Public opinion polling shows the majority of Egyptians want to keep the peace treaty with Israel [theatlantic.com]
Also The New York Times is publishing statistics that Egyptians are liking the US more than before [nytimes.com] ; 45% positive rating vs 29% negative rating.

Maemo & Meego Apps? (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171852)

Anything like that (encrypted calls and text message apps) available for Maemo and Meego?

Out of interest: can apps for Android, which AFAIK is basically a custom-Linux distro, be used on Maemo/Meego?

Possibly snake oil...but you might never know! (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35171902)

It's not open source. The vast majority of all proprietary encryption products are flawed or intentionally flawed. In fact, I would say that nearly all of the products that have been scrutinized by experts (i.e. reverse engineered, etc.) have turned out to be seriously flawed. The ones that don't appear to have buggy implementations just haven't interested anyone enough yet to take a closer look.

Re:Possibly snake oil...but you might never know! (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#35172284)

According to this article [h-online.com] , it uses standard ZRTP for voice and OTR for text.

Phillip.

Re:Possibly snake oil...but you might never know! (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35172574)

Sure, but how do you know that it's implemented correctly without auditing the source code?

I'm sure that the developer is competent, but as history has shown over and over competent and experienced implementers of cryptographic modules also make serious mistakes. Moreover, the Patriot act can be used to force a US developer, no matter how idealistic and good-willing he might be, to include a back-door and prevent him ever from telling anyone about it. My point of view is that for this reason alone you cannot trust proprietary, closed-source encryption software, particularly when it is developed in the US.

At least the app should allow for checking arbitrary test vectors.

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