03 October 2008
Why demonstrators may need to leave their mobiles at home
Over the past decade or so the humble mobile 'phone has become one of the prime organisational tools for any self-respecting agitator. Just by sending text messages out a crowd can quickly be gathered, and everyone in that crowd can keep in touch via the same means. Or can they?
Starting as early as 2003 the London police began to sound out the mobile companies to see if they would switch of their signals during the visit to London in that year of George Bush. The companies refused, but what did emerge was that the state has the right in time of national emergency to order a mobile 'phone blackout.
Obviously that will only happen if the state feels threatened, but it is our job as socialists to help bring about that moment - so what are we doing to prepare for the loss of the ubiquitous mobile?
Perhaps we need to think about going on-line and communicating via the web? One way to do that is via telephones such as the Belkin, which works using the Skype system. The problem is that the handset is not browser based. What that means is that to connect to the internet you either have to be in a free hotspot, or have the WEP key of the router nearest to you.
Looking towards the end of this decade it is highly likely that a new version of this type of handset will be developed that has a built in browser. That would mean that a username and password for any of the internet providers that proliferate in all the cities could be put into the 'phone. However, at the time of writing that is not possible, so it's the bog standard mobile, free hotspots or nothing.
Leftist groups who just love spending their time arguing about whether bourgeois deviationists have navels, or how many running dogs of capitalism can also dance on a pinhead, might want to take this thought and chew it over. Put simply, how are we going to communicate when they switch off the mobile 'phone transmitters?
Any ideas - or are we just going to hope for the best?