About two years ago, news reports described the State Department-funded project of Sascha Meinrath as a way for overseas dissidents to overcome repressive regimes that try to censor them by shutting down the internet. This week a variation on the software he helped design will launch here in the United States. It is called Commotion Wireless. You can download the program on your cellphone or laptop computer in order to create what is called a “mesh” network that allows you to share Internet access with other devices on the network. “It challenges this business model that everyone has to buy their own Internet connection, and it really puts forth this notion of, ‘Why don’t we share resources?’ We can share them across our neighbors, we can share them within our offices, we can share them across entire cities,” says Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.
Also: White House Denounces Cell Phone Unlocking Ban Hours After Petition Backer Appears on Democracy Now!
Just hours after he appeared on Democracy Now! on Monday, former Republican staffer Derek Khanna received a call from the White House saying it was coming out against a ban on unlocking cell phones that went into effect in January. Under the ban, consumers can face up to five years in prison if they unlock their cell phones for use on another carrier without authorization. Khanna helped spearhead a petition against the ban that received more than 114,000 signatures on the White House website. In an online post titled, “It’s Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking,” White House Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy R. David Edelman writes: “The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties … if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It’s common sense.” Derek Khanna joins us to discuss the White House response and what comes next.