The idea of creating digital security with government funding has so many sides, it may be impossible to reconcile them all for everyone’s appeasement and satisfaction.
In Sayada, Tunisia, not the place you first think of this happening (or maybe it is.), an experiment in controlled network building reveals a novel approach to keeping snoops away.
The origins of the project grew out of the 2011 uprising which overthrew the government. This is a rewarding story for Tunisian perseverance given the excessive focus on digital surveillance by the former government.
It’s news here, because the U.S. State Department provided $2.8 million to a shopping cart team of hackers, activists, and über programmers to build, this mesh network. More funding is coming via Uncle Sam (See our tax dollars). A lot more.This time to Cuba for the same type project.
I like the idea of building out this technology for the betterment of all globally. I don’t have a problem with the United States dropping in some coin to get things started where it otherwise could/would not, for way too long. The United States Agency for International Development has a name that implies well meaning goals to help these things along anywhere beyond our borders. Well, maybe not anywhere, but you get the gist.
What’s interesting here is the dual edge involvement of a government (Ours.) which subsidizes, builds, or launches these networks, while at the same holding a solid reputation for being the kind of snoop the mesh networks are designed to keep out.
U.S. Promotes Network to Foil Digital Spying
By Carlotta Gall and James Glanz
SAYADA, Tunisia — This Mediterranean fishing town, with its low, whitewashed buildings and sleepy port, is an unlikely spot for an experiment in rewiring the global Internet. But residents here have a surprising level of digital savvy and sharp memories of how the Internet can be misused.
A group of academics and computer enthusiasts who took part in the 2011 uprising in Tunisia that overthrew a government deeply invested in digital surveillance have helped their town become a test case for an alternative: a physically separate, local network made up of cleverly programmed antennas scattered about on rooftops.
Photo Credit: Samuel Aranda for The New York Times