Telework and totalitarianism, Part 2

Six months ago I blogged about the possible consequences of widespread uses of information technology in fighting totalitarianism. The focus of the blog was on the use of the Internet by Iranian dissidents against the current regime in Iran. In an article (The Iranian Exile’s Eye by Nazila Fathi) in the January 17, 2010 edition of the New York Times comes another fascinating example of technological ingenuity. The author of the article, an exiled Iranian reporter, describes a key method of evading repressive authorities: bluetooth. Specifically,

one of the demonstrators’ most useful tools was the Bluetooth short-range radio signal that Americans use mainly to link a cellphone to an earpiece, or a printer to a laptop. Long ago, Iranian dissidents discovered that Bluetooth can as easily link cellphones to each other in a crowd.

And that made “Bluetooth” a verb in Iran: a way to turn citizen reportage instantly viral. A protester Bluetooths a video clip to others nearby, and they do the same. Suddenly, if the authorities want to keep the image from escaping the scene, they must confiscate hundreds or thousands of phones and cameras.

Flash back four decades to a meeting I had with a scientist from a country just east of the iron curtain. Continue reading Telework and totalitarianism, Part 2