Internet shutdowns are tools of political oppression that control the spread of information and the scope of expressions. In light of recent shutdowns in India and in other communities in resistance, it is useful to have a list of resources that can be used for messaging and sharing content. This toolkit includes links to set up community networks of radio services in addition to mesh networks for setting up decentralised internet connectivity and sharing routes. The tools and platforms mentioned here provide secure services or function offline.
This is a messaging app that can be used without internet and cellular coverage (even when the internet is shut down). The only requirement is that there should be a few other people in proximity who use the app.
2. Txti (http://txti.es/)
Txti is a way to create fast webpages and blogs or collaborate on information with low-speed internet. It can be used on any device. Once a webpage is created, users can share the edit code with other people who can then add to the content.
This is a universal secure chat app that can be installed on any device. Internet connection required. Link for installing:
A secure messaging app with a provision to send offline SMS. Internet connection required.
This is a non-cloud based social networking site, which means all the data remains on the phone. It can be used offline.
This is a secure messaging app that can be used offline. It also has a built-in blog feature to send updates and information to a larger audience.
This is a completely off-the-grid application that can be used to connect and share information without internet connectivity. It uses Local Area Network (Bluetooth and wifi) to send messages.
8. Setting up mesh networks
Community networks provide access to the internet by creating mesh networks connected by multiple devices (nodes) in specific geographic areas. The nodes are connected in a decentralised manner therefore each node does not need to be operational at all times. Mesh networks allow internet sharing, communication and radio services.
- Commotion was developed by the Open Technology Institute to set up wireless community networks. The toolkit on the website provides instruction on setting up the firmware. Commotion requires specific kinds of routers (ubiquiti, TP-link, mikrotik), android mobile phones (HTC, google, motorola, LG) and laptops (preferably ubuntu linux, but will also work on windows and mac). Setting up firmware on routers, laptops and phones require separate installation and configuration processes.
- MAZI uses low-cost hardware, FLOSS (free/libre/open source software) applications and wireless technology for wireless community networks that can are DIY (do-it-yourself). You will require a Raspberry Pi model 2 B, zero, 3 B, 3 B+, MicroSD card (16GB or higher, over class 10 speed), USB wireless adapter with external antenna (only for Raspberry Pi 2). To create a MAZI zone (zone with wireless connectivity across nodes), you will need to install and configure your devices. The MAZI toolkit explains all this with the configuration links on the webpage. The toolkit provides details on testing and deployment.
CoLTE or community long term evolution helps you create a wireless network using broadband services on your mobile phone. You will require a computer (preferably Linux), an eNodeB – this can be either a commercial product, or a computer with an SDR, phone with LTE (same band as the eNodeB) and sim cards. The codebase is on github and you will need to install and run this on your device. Once this is done, you will need to connect this to the eNodeB and then your phone. Here is a toolkit to set up a CoLTE.
10. Citizen band radio
You can set up a free radio service using this free software. This allows you to set up small-distance radios that permit person-to-person communication (from a transmitter to a receiver). This does not require an internet connection and you can set up your own server. Installation guide available here.
11. Collect stamps, postcards and letters. Use the post offices and post boxes in your area. Know the physical
addresses of your friends, family and local media outlets!
The Polis Project is part of the coalition to fight against internet shutdowns.
If you want to add more to this list or get in touch please email [email protected]