'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

Summary:As governments shut down the Internet and try to squelch uprisings, a suitcase---full of networking tools, devices and open source software---can be deployed to create alternative networks. The logistics could be tricky.

The concept of an "Internet in a Suitcase" sounds appealing. As governments shut down the Internet and try to squelch uprisings, this suitcase---full of networking tools, devices and open source software---can be deployed to create alternative networks. The logistics of delivering this gear could be tricky.

Welcome to cyberdiplomacy. This shadow Internet is seen as a way to fuel democracy around the world and the State Department has reportedly forked over $2 million to fund a project at the Open Technology Initiative (OTI).

Josh King, a technologist at the OTI, walked through the project on CBS News' What's Trending show. "Open source software that can be installed on wide variety of devices and enabling those devices to connect and create an alternative network even if they can't connect to Internet," said King. The suitcase is a box of suggested equipment that any Internet service provider could deploy in a neighborhood.

But the big question is whether this Internet in a Suitcase effort could really work. For starters, the U.S. would still have to get this gear to leaders of an uprising. It's also pretty clear that the home government, say Syria, would be looking for these device deliveries. How exactly would these deliverables be protected? And if the military is the answer doesn't that risk dropping the U.S. into another conflict? Like all big ideas, this effort is worth tracking, but the technology is only one part of the equation. The logistics will make or break these efforts.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Browser

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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