Hong Kong’s “Smart Mob” Using Mesh Networks To Evade Chinese Censorship

By: | January 1st, 2015

The Chinese government is up to its old tricks again; promising something to the people, ie: political independence for Hong Kong, taking it away, then standing firm with heavy sticks ready to bludgeon a justifiably angry populace into submission, spraying them with rubber bullets if need be. Thuggery never changes and the Chinese government is ratcheting up the its censorship, trying to keep its population in the dark.

Major change in China will never come from the outside although Western technology is playing a significant role. In the end it will have to be the Chinese people who change their government and social networks are helping them get the lay of the land.

As most know the Internet was originally intended for the US military in case of nuclear war. The network needed to be reliable and redundant with each node in the network connecting to several other nodes in the network so that if one dropped, due to hardware failure (ie: from nuclear annihilation), a neighboring node would instantly find another route to deliver messages. The network was “self healing.”

Defying Authority Using “Mesh Networks”

Today’s mesh networks are very similar and based upon the Internet model but generally run on wireless networks. and are very difficult for governments to control. Mesh networks scale easily, handle hundreds of wireless nodes on a wireless network and are invisible to the Internet.

According to Christophe Daligault of Open Garden, maker of FireChat, “once you build a mesh network … now you have a network that is resilient, self-healing, cannot be controlled by any central organization, cannot be shut down and is always working.”

According to FireChat Hong Kong, since October 2, 2014, the app was downloaded more than 500,000 times and has provided a range of simultaneous users from 12 to 25,000.

In the United States mesh networks are run on corporate campuses, at military installations, in marine vessels, at military bases around the world, in private research institutes and parts of college campuses. All of these networks provide wireless hotspots and connect to fixed, mobile and portable applications.

The following is from Open Garden’s description of FireChat, something that must be driving the Chinese government crazy:

“Chat with everyone around you, even when there’s no Internet connection available. It just works and it’s free. Whether you’re on the beach, camping, at recess, watching a big game, doing business on the street, or attending a company meeting, simply fire up the app with a friend, or add a few to start a group chat.” 

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

More articles from Industry Tap...