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Get Internet access when your government shuts it down

Patrick Miller, David Daw | Jan. 28, 2011
Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio, since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.

Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dialup is king. Here's a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they cut the lines.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don't try to stream any videos with this, now) but it's exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.

In response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, Founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor and creator of the Makerbot 3D Printer has called for Apps for the Appocalypse, including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.

There's also tons of cool tech just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart's Pirate Box is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P work but it wouldn't take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you're in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won't have to worry about anyone--even your government--keeping you from doing just that.

Patrick Miller hopes he isn't first against the wall when the revolution comes. Find him on Twitter or Facebook--if you have a working Internet connection, anyway.

David Daw is an accidental expert in ad hoc networks since his apartment gets no cell reception. Find him on Twitter or send him a ham radio signal.


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