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

'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.

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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

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9 comments
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  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

    Fascinating stuff. Can you imagine what it's gonna be like in 20-50 years?!
    josh92
  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

    The answer to getting them there cheaper is simple. Drop MORE of them. Drop enough that one in ten people can have one. Cheaper than sending the military to protect them, and ensures that some of the good guys get them, freedom of information will almost always be a good thing.
    grant@...
  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

    Anti-tank weapons would help the protesters a lot more effectively!
    wkulecz
  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

    Don't forget the B.A.T.M.A.N. mesh protocol!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.A.T.M.A.N.

    With mesh networking, in theory communication could be routed peer-to-peer without needing any central server/controller. If routers are running a mesh protocol like B.A.T.M.A.N. data could be shared from house to house without need of an ISP - which is possibly used already in this "suitcase". To give another examples, a group of WiFi-enabled cell phones in an area with no cell tower could form their own ad-hoc network and transmit VoIP between themselves.
    jgm@...
  • Big Brother is left in the dust

    The internet in a box is a good idea, but the root of the problem is when (an/any) Government gets the gaul to shut down such a major reseouce such as the internet. They only shoot themselves in the foot.<br><br>Unfortunately for woldwide governments, the internet, with all of it's goods and evils, is a pandora's box that has already been opened and can never be closed again. No matter how hard they try, they won't be able to control it.<br><br>Some examples:<br><br>P2P File Transfers.<br>Most people would think instantly of illegal downloading. But P2P downloading has plenty of legitimate uses. For example, Ubuntu's download site offers it's Linux distribution ISOs via .torrent as well as traditional downloads. Depending on where you are in the world, it can be far faster that way, and is far less stressful on Ubuntu's download servers.<br>Blizzard Entertainment (World of WarCraft, StarCraft II) uses a spin off the .torrent format as the main source for providing updates for their game clients.<br><br>Social networking:<br>Reference to the incident a few months back in Egypt, where the local government cut the internet to prevent protesters from organizing via Twitter. Twitter is used by millions of people online for sharing information of all kinds. Just because it has the potiential to be used for something harmful doesn't mean that you can take it down. Even taking down the internet itself would be more harmful than good, due to the serious backlash suffered by businesses in the affected area who rely heavily on the internet for their business, creating ripples in the local economy.<br><br>Public knowledge will out!
    blackepyon01@...
  • Cool idea but

    It's a cool idea to distribute internet access through a network of meshes, but internet needs to be fed into this distributed network, which means it needs a source of internet which is independent from governmental network. so this source needs to access a satellite connection, which means it needs to send and receive data from this suitcase to a satellite, receiving data from satellite makes no problem, but sending date to satellite makes it detectable. am i right?
    unikz.force
  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

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    talih
  • RE: 'Internet in a Suitcase' sounds great, but what about the logistics?

    This idea could be turned into a very successful Sci-Fi movie. Imagine the title: "The Second Internet". But now turning back to the real thing: I'm just imagining connecting to another Internet and downloading an open source <a href="http://www.paretologic.com/products/regcure/index.aspx">clean registry</a> application. How awesome is that?
    annekingsy
  • Banning that suitcase

    I expect this will be deemed illegal in the US for the same reasons Private Bradley Manning has been held in solitary for 18 months without charge or trial, and Julian Assange is to be extradited to US lackeys, "neutral" Sweden.
    splatman