Nancy Scola at techPresident has a long article about The Guardian Project, an effort lead by my friend Nathan Freitas, that seeks to create secure software for mobile communications. Mobile devices are critically important for activists, dissidents, and leaders of change movements. But most are incredibly insecure and using them can put activists at risk. The Guardian Project seeks to make open-source technology that gives people the ability to talk, message, browse the web, and store data securely on their mobile devices.
[T]he Guardian Project is working on tools to make those devices more secure. Their flagship product is Orbot, an implementation of Tor, a network of servers that routes users in ways that obscure where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Freitas built Orbot with computer security expert Jacob Applebaum. And then there’s Gibber, an encrypted, firewall-evading chat application. The Secure Smart Camera App is an innovation in the works with Witness.org, the group that sprang up after the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles that works to document situations where human rights are at risk. The camera app aims to use automatic facial recognition software to obscure identifies on video taken from mobile phones. It uploads the documentary footage extra-slowly. That’s useful not only in low-bandwidth spots on the globe, but for shielding the video from network censors by making it look like any other type of Internet traffic. There are plans in the works for a “poison pill” program that would allow you or an ally to wipe your phone clean in a dangerous situation. (All Guardians apps in progress are listed on their website.)
This is some of the most inspiring and important work I see taking place at the nexus between technology and progressive activism.