Censorship sucks. It sucks away your passion, your interest… it sucks away your audience. If you have an important message that someone with a judiciary, militia, police force or army behind them deems unsuitable for mass consumption, then your audience will remain ignorant.
Over the past few months, we’ve looked at several ways in which you can use technology to your advantage and circumvent censorship. We’re going to remind you of them here, but with a simple caveat.
Stay Mobile to Share Your Message
Lugging a PC or laptop around to host a website might give good results from a performance point of view, but will ultimately prove unwieldy and possibly dangerous for your short term liberty.
The spread of the Internet and the proliferation of portable hardware such as smartphones, tablets, and mini computers like the Raspberry Pi means that the power to launch a literal digital revolution is now very much real.
As an idea, this is nothing new. The Arab Spring saw Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools utilized to spread photos and shoot footage of events in North Africa back in 2012, enabling newspapers and TV stations around the world to share these uprisings from the viewpoint of on the ground citizen journalists. In the countries where these governments were overthrown (such as Egypt and Tunisia), such footage was ignored as the official media mouthpieces attempted to ignore or pour scorn on the reports.
Tweeting photos and videos is just one way in which digital technology can be used to overcome censorship. But wherever you are, you should be aware that your phone can be used to protect your civil liberties.
Publish a Podcast with Your Smartphone
Want to get your voice heard, but don’t have the option of a web server to store your vocalizations?
All you need is an Android or iPhone device, and an account with Audioboom, Soundcloud, or other similar services that host (usually short) audio content for free. Coupled with the mobile apps’ ability to record and upload your podcast, you can end up with a podcast that tells a story, perhaps yours, or an interview with someone whose experiences can change how the world sees your country.
Should these services be blocked in your location, using an Android VPN tool should help you to circumvent this censorship.
Host a Portable Website
Want to share your truth online, in the shape of the written word?
You can circumvent “official” narratives and offer your side of the story with a web page. But if hosting is prohibitively expensive, and you fear censorship from hosts such as WordPress and Blogger, alternatives exist.
The first solution comes in the shape of the low cost Raspberry Pi, which can be used as a web server. Setup for this is simple, and as long as you can maintain an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection for the device, the No-IP.com dynamic DNS service client installed, anyone online can visit a web page hosted on your Pi.
Perhaps a better option would be to publish your potentially subversive content on a website hosted on your Android device. Once again, this is simple to configure, and will also require No-IP.com (or a similar service) to facilitate connections from the web.
Broadcast Your Own Radio Station
Throughout the 20th century, radio was used as a call to arms, with difficult-to-trace transmissions keeping guerrillas, rebels, and resistance fighters up-to-date with movements and campaigns. The same tactic can be employed in the 21st century; radio has not gone away.
The possibilities of using a Raspberry Pi to broadcast on the FM band have intrigued me since I even knew it was possible.
Setting up the Raspberry Pi as an FM radio requires little more than a 10 inch length of this wire and a portable power source such as a Raspberry Pi-compatible battery pack.
What you choose to broadcast through the device is up to you, but it will need to be pre-recorded and copied to an SD card first.
Broadcasting on the FM band requires a license in most countries. However, intelligent positioning of your Pi FM transmitters can help you share your message to your audience while avoiding the close attention of the authorities.
Avoid Censorship, Your Way
Denizens of oppressive regimes have little to look forward to. Being able to subvert the communications tools that they have access to in order to bring about change isn’t for everyone. These aren’t the only ways that technology can be used to work around censorship, either.