How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

Summary: Police 'kettling' tactics are highly controversial and can leave legitimate protesters without basic amenities for hours. Fleeing riot police on foot? There's an app for that.

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Fleeing riot police on foot? There's an app for that.

Two graduate students, angry in response to the police tactics used on students exhibiting their legitimate right to protest, have taken their fight to the mobile platform: a new smartphone application to avoid police cordens amid planned protests.

Sukey runs as a mobile web application designed for peaceful protesters to remain on the march. By submitting text messages of where police officers are collecting, trouble hotspots and areas which have been blocked off already, it allows a map to be generated on the phone browser to assist legitimate protesters in avoiding trouble.

It employs a range of crowdsourcing submissions, ranging from Twitter hashtags to geotagging photos on Flickr. It is a real-time citizen powered solution to a citizen brought problem.

On the other hand, though enabling legitimate protests is the primary goal, it can be used to outwit the police. Ethically, opinion seems to be mixed.

Since the violence on 10th November where the headquarters of the UK government's political party were raided and vandalised by students protesting the rise in tuition fees, kettling began to feature as a prominent and seemingly inevitable consequence of taking to the streets.

'Kettling' is where police force demonstrators into a contained area for undetermined lengths of time until the perceived risk of violence is no longer. The use of kettling was used on student protesters in December last year where protests turned violent, and also during the G20 conference in 2009 where a member of public was struck by a police officer and subsequently died.

Some argue that it is to prevent damage to buildings and people, whereas others say it perpetuates violences and antagonises protesters, repressing their legitimate right to protest.

Whether you agree or not with the fundamentals of the application or at very least the solution it attempts to rectify, it shows an increasingly determined effort to create and develop mobile applications based on user submissions. In this case, you can even find someone to take home with you after the kettle is lifted.

Topics: Mobility, Enterprise Software, Networking, Piracy, Security, Wi-Fi

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12 comments
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  • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

    It would seem that false entries could be generated by authorities to help disrupt this app. Not sure how much effort would be needed to accomplish that goal, but it does seem possible.
    ejhonda
  • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

    Users should be aware that this, in itself (giving information on location of police activity) is illegal in many states. In others, they may be charged with conspiracy, and even organized crime! This one is a BAD idea!
    rphunter42
  • Their right to protest?!

    Where is that in their Constitution? It isn't even in our Constitution, and this is Egypt we're talking about. Free speech and assembly are not the same thing as bringing a campus, which is private property, or a city, which is a mixture of public and many pieces of private property, to its knees with what amount to a corporeal DDoS attack. Our forefathers rebelled at not having representation, remember? Not having an avenue for making your wishes known, protest becomes the only recourse. But, we have representation now. We just need to use it. They haven't really had representation, but it's been better than most nations in that part of the world.

    Protests like those in Tianenmen Square in China are heroic stands against tyranny.

    Protests like those in the US and Egypt are childish temper-tantrums.
    Gaius_Maximus
    • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

      @Gaius_Maximus Had we not had the freedom to protest we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy today.

      With elections being rigged, shady politicians voted in who can't prove their citizenship, dead people voting and illegals voting protests and mass assembly may be the only way to make change anymore.
      Ron Burgundy
    • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

      @Gaius_Maximus The United Kingdom does not have a constitution.
      noahspurrier
      • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

        @noahspurrier Yes, it does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_Kingdom
        vladtheemailer
    • If they really are rights...

      @Gaius_Maximus <br>...it's not because they're guaranteed by law, but because it's morally wrong to deny them. Here in the U.S.A where basic rights are guaranteed by federal and state constitutions, we often confuse rights with mere privileges, but the American Revolution broke out not because King George and his ministers were ignoring the privileges granted the colonists by law, but because the colonists thought that their moral rights (independent of statute) were being violated. The framers of state constitutions then wrote guarantees of the rights they thought they had into those constitutions. Their example was subsequently followed by the first U.S. Congress (which passed what we know today as the Bill of Rights), and the framers of every subsequent state constitution, but our rights are not dependent upon those documents. We would have them even if those documents had never been written.<br><br>The rights of Americans, Britons, Egyptians, Chinese and others to express their opinions and to petition their respective governments for redress of grievances are not mere legal privileges but human rights. Governments that interfere with the exercise of those rights are acting unjustly, even if their actions are legal.
      John L. Ries
    • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

      @Gaius_Maximus <br>When thinking about "freedom of assembly" this article sure seems to speak about the "right" to "DISASSEMBLY" which is how to avoid 'kettling' which has caused at least one death. If this is unlawful, I guess they can have my body when it's cold...
      rdavidw
    • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

      @Gaius_Maximus
      I can't call it representation. We got 460 some odd reps in Congress. Same number as in 1959 when Hawaii joined the Union. Population has more than doubled. What we have is a court of noble people trading power for money surrounding a revolving monarchy. The streets have and will serve the same purpose here for real social change as in Egypt.
      MikeinCarlsbad
  • Let's see...

    ...you note that the UK Conservative Party's headquarters were raided and vandalized and that subsequent to that, kettling began to be used more. Seems to me that if the risk of violence is real, then the police have a duty to be proactive in preventing it. If there is no real risk of violence, then the police should limit themselves to maintaining order and preventing the harassment of individuals.

    Sorry to say, while peaceful protests do sometimes call attention to policies in desperate need of changing, they are too often used as a form of punishment, or even as a simple political tactic designed to harass and delegitimize the other side. Emotions run high, but organized temper tantrums are more likely to make more enemies than friends, and give the authoritarian minded the excuses they need to crack down on even the most peaceful demonstrations. In this case, it would likely be more effective to circulate a petition and arrange for an opposition MP to present it in Parliament, or to flood the mailboxes of government MPs with letters. If a demonstration is really required, then let it be orderly and oriented towards changing the policy in question, not punishing those who advocate it.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

    Legitimate protests are well, legitimate and need no assistance from an app. This is exactly what the anarchists need to help them infiltrate and disrupt legitimate protests.

    When watching masked hoodlums breaking the law, smashing windows, burning cars and creating general mayhem I am not amused that they use this type of technology to assist them in their efforts to destroy.

    Watching these criminals in Seattle makes me wish police were as bad as some people claim because there would be far fewer of these thugs alive. But alas, the police behave properly and these mindless punks are allowed to continue their attacks on legitimate protests and marches. If you want to know just how ignorant most of the protesters are of why they protest, just go ask them while they are marching.

    Oh well, technology can be used for good or evil. In this case the use for "good" is not needed so it must be designed for evil.
    Original-gray2hairs
  • RE: How students used tech to beat protest police 'kettling' tactics

    Most of these unruly, ungrateful "kids" are simply spoiled, overprivileged brats!
    JWEBBER