Home / Tecnología / Los separatistas catalanes se han equipado con una aplicación descentralizada para la desobediencia civil

Los separatistas catalanes se han equipado con una aplicación descentralizada para la desobediencia civil

¿Nuestra era de teléfonos inteligentes y redes sociales omnipresentes se está convirtiendo en una era de disturbios civiles masivos? Dos años después de celebrar un referéndum para la independencia y haber declarado unilateralmente la independencia a pesar del estado español, por lo que no obtuvo el reconocimiento de la república y se vio obligado a buscar líderes políticos encarcelados o exiliados: el movimiento secesionista de Cataluña ha resurgido con un gran revuelo.

Una de las primeras protestas planeadas por un nuevo grupo de activistas en línea, llamada Tsunami Democràtic, vio a miles de manifestantes reunidos en el aeropuerto de Barcelona el lunes en un intento de cerrarlo. La protesta no lo hizo en absoluto, pero condujo a serios inconvenientes, con carreteras bloqueadas por el tráfico humano mientras los manifestantes caminaban por la carretera y la cancelación de más de 100 vuelos, además de horas de retraso para los viajeros que llegaban a El Prat. [19659002] Durante meses que condujeron a un veredicto importante de la Corte Suprema sobre el destino de los líderes políticos catalanes encarcelados, una "élite técnica [ ", como los describió un académico de ciencias políticas locales esta semana, preparado para reiniciar el movimiento de independencia de Cataluña mediante el desarrollo de herramientas de protesta de alta tecnología personalizadas y descentralizadas.

Una fuente con conocimiento de Tsunami Democràtic, hablando con TechCrunch bajo condición de anonimato, nos dijo que los "desarrolladores de alto nivel" ubicados en todo el mundo están involucrados en el esfuerzo, dividiendo las actividades de codificación como para cualquier proyecto de TI en a gran escala y la explotación de recursos de código abierto (como la plataforma de red basada en nodos RetroShare) para canalizar el soporte básico para la independencia en una red elástica de campañas que no pueden ser detenidas por el arresto de algunos líderes.

Los manifestantes en el aeropuerto el lunes respondieron directamente a una llamada para bloquear la terminal principal enviada al canal Telegram del grupo. [19659002] Otras oleadas de protestas están programadas y programadas a través de una aplicación personalizada Tsunami Democràtic que se lanzó esta semana para teléfonos inteligentes Android, como una carga lateral, aún no una descarga de Google Play.

La aplicación está diseñada para integrar las transmisiones tradicionales de la plataforma de redes sociales mediante la movilización de grupos de seguidores más pequeños y localizados para llevar a cabo actos pacíficos de desobediencia civil en toda Cataluña.

Nuestra fuente nos ha acompañado a través de la aplicación, que requiere autorización de localización para trabajar, de modo que los administradores puedan mapear los recursos humanos disponibles para las protestas ordenadas. Se nos dice que la ubicación precisa de un usuario no se comparte, sino que se envía un indicador de posición borroso y más borroso. Sin embargo, el código fuente de la aplicación aún no ha sido de código abierto, por lo que los usuarios deben aceptar dichos reclamos sobre la confianza (se dice que el plan es el código abierto, pero solo una vez que la aplicación ha sido cancelada de cualquier rastro de identificación, para la fuente). [19659002] La aplicación requiere la activación de un código QR. Esta es una medida de seguridad destinada a gestionar la activación en varias fases, a través de círculos de conocimiento confiable, para limitar el riesgo de infiltración por parte de las autoridades estatales. Aunque parece una táctica de gamificación viral para alentar a las personas a correr la voz y generar publicidad de manera orgánica al preguntarles a sus amigos si tienen un código o no.

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Sea lo que sea porque la charla parece funcionar. Durante nuestra reunión frente al café, escuchamos a un grupo de personas sentadas en otra mesa hablando sobre la aplicación. Y al momento de escribir este artículo, Tsunami Democràtic ha anunciado hasta ahora 15,000 activaciones exitosas de códigos QR. Aunque no está claro qué tan exitoso será el plan de desobediencia civil flashmob previsto en esta fase incipiente.

Una vez activado, se solicita a los usuarios de la aplicación que especifiquen su disponibilidad (por ejemplo, días y horas del día) para llevar a cabo acciones de desobediencia civil. Y para especificar si tienen ciertos recursos de movilidad que podrían usarse como parte de una protesta (por ejemplo, automóvil, scooter, bicicleta, tractor).

Ejemplos de posibles acciones descritas por nuestra fuente fueron las demoras para detener el tráfico y las compras falsas dirigidas a supermercados donde los activistas podían pasar algunas horas acumulando carros en alto con los productos antes de dejarlos abandonados en la tienda para permitir que alguien más limpie.

Una acción inicial real llevada a cabo por activistas del grupo el mes pasado se dirigió a una sucursal del CaixaBank local con una sentada de protesta enmascarada.

Nuestra fuente declaró que la intención es incluir una ventana emergente en la aplicación como una especie de contrato de conciencia pidiendo a los usuarios que confirmen la participación en el caos de la organización. totalmente tranquilo Aquí hay un ejemplo de cómo comprometo :

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aparece También se anima a los usuarios a confirmar sus intenciones de participar en una próxima acción (es decir, la aplicación adquirirá de antemano el número de presencias para las protestas) y efectuará el check-in cuando lleguen para que sus administradores puedan realizar un seguimiento de la participación efectiva en tiempo real.

La aplicación no requiere ningún dato personal durante la incorporación: no se crea una cuenta, etc., aunque los usuarios aceptan que su posición se controle de forma generalizada.

Y al menos es posible que otros datos personales puedan pasarse, por ejemplo, a un campo de envío de comentarios que permita a las personas enviar comentarios sobre las acciones. O si la aplicación termina grabando otros datos a través del acceso a los sensores del teléfono inteligente.

El otro punto clave es que los usuarios solo ven acciones relacionadas con su disponibilidad declarada y posición rastreada. Entonces, desde el punto de vista de un manifestante, solo ven una pequeña parte del programa de protesta democartical del Tsunami. La vista del usuario está descentralizada y la información se distribuye de manera estrictamente fragmentada, en función de la necesidad de conocimiento.

Detrás de escena, donde los administradores desconocidos acceden a sus datos y diseñan y gestionan las acciones de protesta que se distribuirán a través de la aplicación, puede haber una visión centralizada de los recursos disponibles para las protestas humanas. Pero la apariencia del otro lado de la plataforma no está clara. Nuestra fuente no pudo mostrarnos ni articular su apariencia.

Por supuesto, los administradores pueden cancelar las acciones planificadas si, por ejemplo, no hay suficiente participación, lo que significa que pueden administrar de manera invisible la óptica externa en torno al compromiso con el causar. ¿No hay suficientes soldados para una protesta planificada? Simplemente cancélelo fácilmente a través de la aplicación.

Además, no está nada claro: ¿quiénes son las fuerzas impulsoras detrás de la máscara de protesta democartica del tsunami?

"No hay cerebro pensante, hay muchos cerebros", dijo un portavoz del movimiento a El Diario esta semana. Pero esto plantea preguntas bastante importantes sobre la legitimidad democrática. ¿Por qué, bueno, si afirmas luchar por la democracia movilizando el apoyo popular y lo estás haciendo en una democracia occidental, puedes realmente decir eso mientras tu organización permanece en la sombra?

Incluso si su objetivo es una protesta política no violenta y su jerarquía está genuinamente descentralizada, lo cual es la declaración sugestiva aquí, a menos que ofrezca transparencia de la estructura para hacer que la composición y administración de su movimiento sea visible para el control externo (de modo que sus reclamos de legitimidad democrática puedan verificarse de manera independiente) para que los manifestantes individuales (usuarios finales de la aplicación) solo necesiten toma tu palabra

Usuarios finales que son de crowdsourcing y han optado por actuar siguiendo las instrucciones de la aplicación como si fueran peones en un tablero de alta tecnología. También (implícitamente) se le pide que corra el riesgo directo personal de que un movimiento sin rostro generará una presión política de abajo hacia arriba.

Por lo tanto, existe una preocupante contradicción aquí para un movimiento que ha elegido incluir la palabra "democrático" en su nombre. (La marca es una referencia a una fase utilizada por el líder cultural catalán encarcelado, Jordi Cuixart.) ¿Quién o qué está alimentando esta ola?

 Democrático del tsunami

Ahora también sabemos muy bien cómo la naturaleza de doble cara de las plataformas significa que estos canales tecnosociales de flujo rápido pueden sustraerse fácilmente de los grupos de interés motivados por gamify y manipular opinión (e incluso acción) en masa. Esto se ha aclarado en gran medida en los últimos años con campañas de desinformación política que se están extendiendo por todo el lugar en línea.

Entonces, si bien los mensajes de protesta política llenos de emojis pidiendo a las personas que se movilicen en una esquina particular de la calle puede parecer un poco inocuo & # 39; & # 39; El entretenimiento urbano al estilo de Pokemon Go, el resultado puede, y esta semana fue, mucho menos predecible y más riesgoso de lo que puede sugerir su empaque gamificado.

Muchas protestas se desarrollaron pacíficamente, ciertamente. Otros, a menudo los que ocurren después del atardecer y hasta altas horas de la noche, han recurrido a malas escenas y enfrentamientos destructivos.

Existe claramente un gran desafío para los movimientos descentralizados (y de hecho tecnologías) cuando se trata de crear estructuras de gobierno legítimas que simplemente repitan las jerarquías de las autoridades y sistemas existentes (centralizados) que están tratando de desafiar.

La incapacidad de la comunidad criptográfica que ama a la anarquía para fusionarse con una forma de progresar con la tecnología blockchain parece ser su ironía autodestructiva. Es probable que un movimiento sin rostro que lucha por la "democracia" detrás de una máscara de aplicación que permite que sus extractores de cadenas y sus procesadores de datos permanezcan fuera de la vista parece ser otro.

Ninguno de los manifestantes con los que hablamos podía decir con certeza quién estaba detrás de Tsunami Democràtic. Uno sugirió que solo los "ciudadanos" o las mismas personas ayudaron a organizar el referéndum sobre la independencia catalana de 2017, gestionando el movimiento de las papeletas de votación entrando y saliendo de una red no oficial de colegios electorales en para poder recoger y contar los votos a pesar de los mejores esfuerzos de las autoridades españolas para apoderarse de ellos y destruirlos.

En ese momento también hubo un sofisticado esfuerzo de soporte tecnológico para apoyar el voto y garantizar que la información sobre los colegios electorales permaneciera disponible ante el desmantelamiento de sitios web por parte del estado español.

Nuestra fuente fue igualmente vaga cuando se le preguntó quién está detrás de la aplicación Tsunami Democràtic. Lo cual, si la filosofía de descentralización realmente tenía que pasar por la red, como una estrategia de resiliencia para proteger a sus miembros de ser denunciados a la policía, eso es lo que esperaba.

Cualquier nodo individual no lo conocería o le gustaría conocer muchos otros nodos. Pero esto deja solo un vacío en el centro de lo que parece no estar relacionado con la investigación democrática.

Una cosa que Tsunami Democràtic ha hecho todo lo posible para aclarar en todas las comunicaciones (visibles) a sus partidarios es que las protestas deben ser pacíficas. Pero, una vez más, si bien las herramientas tecnológicas son excelentes facilitadores, no siempre está claro exactamente qué enfoque se activa una vez que el impulso se agrega y se canaliza. Y las protestas que comenzaron pacíficamente esta semana se han convertido en continuas batallas con la policía con misiles lanzados, fuegos encendidos y balas de goma.

Algunos informes han sugerido que la respuesta demasiado agresiva de la policía a la concentración de multitudes desencadenó y lanzó manifestantes tranquilos. Lo que es seguro es que hay lesiones en ambos lados. Hoy se informa que alrededor de 100 personas resultaron heridas en tres noches de protesta. Una huelga general y el evento más grande hasta ahora está programado para el viernes en Barcelona. Entonces, la ciudad está lista para más problemas mientras las pantallas de los teléfonos inteligentes parpadean con nuevas instrucciones de protesta.

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Las redes sociales son obviamente un canal para muchas cosas. En su forma más corporativa y anodina, su misión declarada puede expresarse sin gusto, como con el propósito declarado de Facebook de "conectar a las personas". (Aunque la distracción y / o la indignación a menudo están más cerca de la señal).

En la práctica, gracias a la naturaleza humana, eso significa agendas políticas, intereses financieros y todo el resto de nuestros deseos variados y a menudo en conflicto: todo tipo de chispas pueden volar. Nada es más visible que durante las movilizaciones masivas en las que grupos con una agenda compartida se unen rápidamente para amplificar una causa y agitar el cambio.

Incluso los movimientos que comienzan con las mejores intenciones, y ponen a sus organizadores y su administración abiertos a todos para ver y cuestionar, pueden perder el control de los resultados.

No menos importante porque los extraños malvados a menudo aprovechan la oportunidad para confundirse y actuar, usando la tapa de una protesta organizada para crear un disturbio violento. (Y se han filtrado algunos informes a través de las redes sociales catalanas que afirman que los delincuentes de derecha han causado problemas y que la policía secreta está mezclando intencionalmente las cosas para ensuciar el movimiento).

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BARCELONA, ESPAÑA – 17 DE OCTUBRE: Los manifestantes salen a las calles para manifestarse después de que la Corte Suprema española condenó a nueve líderes separatistas catalanes entre 9 y 13 años de prisión por su papel en el fallido referéndum catalán de 2017 el 17 de octubre de 2019 en Barcelona. España. (Foto de Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

Entonces, si una campaña política de alto poder se gestiona y gestiona de forma remota, desde entidades desconocidas examinadas detrás de las pantallas, hay muchas otras preguntas que debemos preguntarnos ¿dónde está? riesgo de equilibrio y mentiras de poder, un y si una insignia de "democracia democrática" realmente puede justificarse.

Para el tsunami democrático y el movimiento por la independencia de Cataluña, en general las protestas de esta semana parecen ser solo el comienzo de una campaña guerrillera por la desobediencia civil, impulsada por la tecnología , para intentar forzar un cambio en el clima político. Incluso España todavía tiene otra elección general inminente, por lo que los tiempos ofrecen la ola de oportunidades.

El bloqueo de El Prat que comenzó la última ronda de desórdenes catalanes parecía destinado a ser un destello dramático de apertura. Reflexione y refiérase al movimiento democrático de Hong Kong, que convirtió al aeropuerto internacional en un punto focal para sus protestas, ocupando el edificio de la terminal e interrumpiendo los vuelos en un intento de atraer la atención del mundo sobre su situación.

En un paralelo adicional con las protestas de Hong Kong, un mapa de crowdsourcing similar a HKmaps.live, la aplicación que mapea dinámicamente los cierres de calles y la presencia policial mediante la superposición de emojis en una vista de la ciudad, es preparado para Cataluña por aquellos involucrados en el movimiento independentista

En el momento de escribir esto, un puñado de helicópteros emoji, barricadas y furgonetas son visibles en un mapa de Barcelona. Tocar un emoji muestra detalles fechados como lo que estaba haciendo una camioneta de la policía y si tenía una cámara. Un estado verificado sugiere que se requerirán más informes antes de que se muestre un icono. Entendemos que las personas podrán informar la actividad de la calle para el mapeo en vivo a través de un bot de Telegram.

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Captura de pantalla del mapa catalán en vivo para obtener información sobre crowdsourcing en la calle

Nuestra fuente sugirió que la presencia policial en el mapa podría ser un emoji de pollo. Aka Piolín: el nombre en español del personaje de dibujos animados de Loony Tunes Tweety Pie, una referencia a un crucero de colores brillantes utilizado para albergar a docenas de policías españoles en el puerto de Barcelona durante el referéndum de 2017, proporcionando material de meme instantáneo. Aunque la versión de prueba que vimos parece usar una mezcla de perros y polluelos.

Junto con la aplicación Tsunami Democràtic, el mapa en vivo significa que pronto habrá dos herramientas a medida para apoyar una campaña de desobediencia civil cuyos organizadores desconocidos claramente esperan que llegue lejos.

Como hemos dicho, las identidades de las personas que coordinan el movimiento reiniciado siguen sin estar claras. Tampoco está claro quién, si alguien lo está financiando.

Nuestra fuente sugirió que los recursos técnicos para la ejecución y el mantenimiento de las aplicaciones son manejados por crowdsourcing por voluntarios. Pero algunos comentaristas argumentan que se necesitaría una fuente de financiación para respaldar todo lo que se entrega, técnica y logísticamente. La aplicación ciertamente parece mucho más sofisticada que un proyecto de trabajo durante el fin de semana.

Hubo algunas expresiones públicas de apoyo de alto nivel para Tsunami Democràtic, como el ex entrenador del equipo de fútbol de Barcelona, ​​Pep Guardiola, quien esta semana lanzó un video con insignia con el logotipo del Tsunami D en el que defiende el derecho democrático de reunión y protesta, advirtiendo que la libertad de expresión está amenazada y afirmando que "España está experimentando una deriva hacia el autoritarismo". Por lo tanto, los partidarios ricos de la independencia catalana no son exactamente difíciles de encontrar.

Cualquier persona involucrada detrás de escena, ya sea con fondos o solo con apoyo técnico y organizativo, está claro que la energía de protesta "gratuita" se dona libremente a la causa por una población muy ocupada de simpatizantes de independencia.

El apoyo básico para la independencia catalana es abundante, muy comprometido, disperso geográficamente y abarcando generaciones, a veces de manera sorprendente. Una madre con la que hablamos, que dijo que estaba demasiado enferma para ir a la protesta del aeropuerto el lunes, contó su decepción cuando sus hijos adolescentes le dijeron que no irían porque querían terminar la tarea.

Sin embargo, muchos manifestantes fueron, respondiendo invitaciones a la acción en sus aplicaciones de mensajería o mediante carteles imprimibles puestos a disposición en línea por Tsunami Democràtic de que algunos manifestantes callejeros fueron retratados en posesión.

Miles de manifestantes han ocupado la terminal principal del aeropuerto de Barcelona, ​​han cantado y cantado canciones de protesta, casi disculpan los mensajes en las ventanas en inglés (diciendo que la falta de democracia es peor que perder un vuelo) y se enfrentó a filas de policías con equipo antidisturbios, incluidas unidades de la policía nacional española que descargan balas de goma. Posteriormente, la prensa local informó que un periodista había perdido un ojo.

"Es hora de hacer que se escuche nuestra voz en el mundo", dice el mensaje de Tsunami Democràtic en Telegram pidiendo un bloqueo del aeropuerto. Por lo tanto, establece el objetivo (cierre de un aeropuerto) e informa a los partidarios de que todas las formas de transporte son "válidas" para favorecer la misión de interrumpir las actividades como de costumbre. "¡Comparta y nos vemos en T1!", Finaliza. Alrededor de 240,000 personas vieron la educación, según los conteos efímeros de Telegram.

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Manifestantes durante una protesta contra la prisión de separatistas catalanes en el aeropuerto de El Prat en Barcelona, ​​España, el lunes 14 de octubre de 2019. Foto de Iranzu Larrasoana Oneca / NurPhoto a través de Getty Images) [19659044] Más tarde esa noche, el canal envió otro mensaje para indicar a los manifestantes que lo llamaran una noche. & # 39; Hoy fuimos un tsunami & # 39; lee en catalán. & # 39; Transformaremos cada victoria en una movilización. Hemos comenzado un ciclo de desobediencia civil no violenta. "En el momento de escribir este artículo, el mensaje de seguimiento ha tenido más de 300,000 visitas.

Si bien Tsunami Democràtic es solo uno de los muchos grupos que apoyan la independencia que organizan y movilizan protestas regionales, como los CDR, también conocido como Comité de Defensa de la República, que bloqueó las autopistas en Cataluña en los últimos dos años, ha ganado rápidamente el impulso de la mayoría desde que se dio a conocer en silencio este verano.

Su canal Telegram, que se creó solo en Agosto: seguidores acumulados en las últimas semanas Otros grupos a favor de la independencia también comparten noticias y distribuyen planes en la plataforma Telegram y, en general, en las redes sociales como Twitter, aunque nadie ha acumulado tantos seguidores. ni de hecho con tal velocidad viral.

Incluso el canal Telegram de Anonymous Catalonia, que esta semana lanzó una transmisión como esta un montón de contenido de protesta de crowdsourcing sin filtrar, lleno de videos de contenedores en llamas, sirenas tocando camionetas de policía y multitudes dispersas, intercaladas con fotos de calles vacías (bloques exitosos) y la extraña herida de balas de goma, solo tiene una & # 39; mero & # 39; 100k + suscriptores.

Y aunque WhatsApp, propiedad de Facebook, fue una de las principales fuentes de mensajes de protesta en torno al referéndum catalán de 2017, con Telegram recién lanzado en streaming como una alternativa para tratar de comunicarse fuera del alcance del estado español, el testigo del La movilización de protesta parece haberse transferido más completamente a Telegram ahora.

Quizás se deba en parte a un elemento de desconfianza de las plataformas tradicionales controladas por gigantes tecnológicos que podrían ser respaldados por los Estados para bloquear el contenido (Tsunami Democartic dijo que no es cierto que no tenga una versión iOS de su aplicación , a pesar de muchas solicitudes, porque la "política de la tienda de aplicaciones es muy restrictiva", haciendo una referencia directa a Apple que extrae la aplicación HKmaps de su tienda). Mientras que el fundador de Telegram, Pavel Durov, es notablemente resistente al poder estatal autoritario.

Aunque, muy probablemente, es el resultado de algunas herramientas poderosas que Telegram proporciona para administrar y moderar canales.

El resultado es que la plataforma de mensajería de Telegram ha disfrutado de un aumento de descargas en España durante los disturbios regionales de este mes, mientras que los amantes locales de WhatsApp coquetean con una plataforma rival incluso en respuesta a las llamadas de sus canales políticos para suba a Telegram para obtener instrucciones detalladas sobre la próxima demostración.

Para App Annie, Telegram ha subido en el ranking de las mejores descargas gratuitas para Google Play en España, pasando del undécimo al tercer lugar este mes. Mientras que, para iOS, se mantiene estable en la mejor área de descargas gratuitas.

También está creciendo en paralelo: disturbios en las calles de Cataluña.

Desde que las tensiones de protesta del aeropuerto del lunes ciertamente han aumentado. Las carreteras en toda la región han sido bloqueadas. Mobiliario urbano y vehículos quemados. Misiles de bricolaje lanzados contra la policía.

Hay informes policiales el jueves por la mañana disparando gases lacrimógenos y vehículos policiales conducidos a gran velocidad para protestar contra la multitud de jóvenes. Se ha informado que dos personas han invertido.

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La policía antidisturbios dispara a los manifestantes después de una manifestación convocada por los Comités de Defensa locales (CDR) en Barcelona el 17 de octubre de 2019. – Después de años de separación pacífica de manifestaciones, la violencia finalmente es Estalló en las calles catalanas esta semana, liderado por activistas frustrados por la parálisis política y enfurecidos por la condena de la Corte Suprema de nueve de sus líderes por una oferta fallida de independencia. (Foto de LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Foto de LLUIS GENE / AFP a través de Getty Images)

Los helicópteros se han convertido en un sonido de rutina que rasga el cielo nocturno urbano. Mientras que el conteo de lesiones continúa aumentando en ambos lados. Y mientras tanto, hay innumerables videos que circulan en las redes sociales para ser tamizados para reforzar su punto de vista, protegiendo los enfrentamientos entre los manifestantes y el bastón que blande a la policía. Un video que apareció anoche parecía mostrar a los manifestantes que apuntaban a un helicóptero policial con fuegos artificiales. Obviamente, los medios de propaganda rusos han estado listos para capturar y amplificar visiones divisivas .

El desencadenante para un retorno a las olas de desobediencia civil alimentadas por la tecnología, como también se vio en Cataluña en el momento del referéndum de 2017, son largas condenas de prisión emitidas por la Corte Suprema española el lunes. Doce líderes de la sociedad política y civil involucrados en el referéndum fueron condenados, nueve con la acusación de sedición y abuso de fondos públicos. Nadie fue declarado culpable de la acusación más grave de rebelión, pero las sentencias fueron aún duras, que iban de 13 a 9 años.

Los líderes encarcelados, apodados presos políticos (también conocidos como prisioneros políticos) de la sociedad catalana, que distribuye libremente cintas amarillas en espiral como símbolo de solidaridad en apoyo del presos ya habían pasado casi dos años en prisión sin fianza.

Un informe esta semana en El Diario, citando una fuente en el Tsunami Democràtic, sugiere que el movimiento activista se estableció en respuesta a un sentimiento creciente en el movimiento de independencia de la región según la cual se necesitaba una nueva forma de movilizar y llevar a cabo protestas a raíz de la oferta fallida de la independencia de 2017.

El esperado veredicto draconiano de la Corte Suprema marcó una fecha de inicio natural para el reinicio.

Era necesario reiniciar porque, con tantos mascarones de proa en prisión – y el ex presidente catalán Carles Puigdemont exiliado en Bruselas – c & # 39; fue una especie de vacío de liderazgo para la causa secesionista.

Esto se combinó con una sensación de persecución por parte de un estado centralizado que suspendió la autonomía regional de Cataluña tras el referéndum ilegal, invocando una disposición constitucional para una "opción nuclear" para destituir al gobierno y convocar nuevas elecciones, Probablemente explica por qué el renovado movimiento de independencia se inspiró en la descentralización al estilo blockchain.

Nuestra fuente también nos dijo que el pensamiento blockchain informaba el diseño y la estructura de la aplicación.

Al hablar sobre los desarrolladores que crearon la aplicación, dijo que no solo es una diáspora catalana técnicamente comprometida, que ha donado su tiempo y habilidades para ayudar a la sociedad civil a responder a lo que usted ve como Persecución política de larga data, pero, en general, programadores y tecnólogos interesados ​​en participar en lo que esperan sea el mayor experimento en democracia participativa y desobediencia civil pacífica.

La fuente indicó la investigación realizada por Erica Chenoweth, una politóloga de la Universidad de Harvard, que descubrió que las campañas de desobediencia civil no violentas son una forma mucho más poderosa de dar forma a la política de violencia mundial. También descubrió que tales campañas deben involucrar solo al 3.5% de la población para tener éxito. Y con más de 300.000 suscriptores, el canal Telegram de Tsunami Democràtic ya puede haber cruzado ese umbral, dado que la población de Cataluña es de solo alrededor de 7,6 millones.

Parece que algunos de los desarrolladores que ayudan al movimiento se sienten atraídos por la posibilidad de aplicar una poderosa plataforma de tecnología móvil a una causa política fuerte como una forma de enfatizar las estructuras democráticas y quizás jugar a reconfigurarlas. Se gli strumenti riescono a catturare l'intenzione e sostenere l'azione e così coinvolgere e attivare i cittadini in una campagna politica a lungo termine.

Ci viene detto che l'intenzione dichiarata di open source l'app è anche un obiettivo per renderla disponibile per altre cause da raccogliere e utilizzare per premere per il cambiamento. Il che inizia a sembrare un po 'il cambio di regime come servizio …

Facendo un passo indietro, c'è anche una questione se la disobbedienza civile micromanaged sia filosoficamente diversa dalle espressioni più organiche di malcontento.

C'è un elemento di non -violenta protesta che viene armata contro un avversario quando lo stai usando tramite un'app. Poiché i partecipanti vengono controllati a distanza e coordinati a distanza, allo stesso tempo le tecnologie mobili onnipresenti sensibili alla posizione significano che il modo in cui l'entità di controllo parla loro può essere mirato con precisione per premere i loro pulsanti e spingere l'azione.

Sì, è vero che il diritto all'assemblea pacifica e alla protesta è una pietra angolare della democrazia. Né è esattamente un nuovo fenomeno che la tecnologia mobile ha facilitato questa espressione democratica. Nel diario di viaggio del giornalista Giles Tremlett sul suo paese adottato, Ghosts of Spain, racconta come nei giorni successivi agli attentati del treno di Madrid nel 2004 iniziarono a diffondersi messaggi di testo anonimi che portavano a manifestazioni di massa spontanee

All'epoca c'erano rapporti contrastanti su chi fosse responsabile degli attentati, mentre il governo cercava di incolpare il gruppo terrorista basco ETA per quello che sarebbe risultato essere il lavoro dei terroristi islamici. Proprio alla vigilia di un'elezione in Spagna, gli elettori si trovarono di fronte a una decisione politica cruciale – avendo appena appreso che la polizia aveva effettivamente arrestato tre marocchini per gli attentati dinamitardi, suggerendo che il governo aveva mentito.

“Un nuovo fenomeno politico è nato quel giorno – la dimostrazione istantanea dei messaggi di testo ", scrive Tremlett. “I messaggi di testo anonimi hanno iniziato a volare dal cellulare al cellulare. Sono diventati noti come i messaggi pásalo, perché ognuno si è concluso con un'esortazione a "Passare su". Era come una cotta di maglia, ma istantanea. "

A più di quindici anni da quei primi tempi della tecnologia mobile di consumo e della messaggistica SMS, ora significa molto di più di quanto non facesse, con quasi tutti in una ricca regione occidentale come La Catalogna ha in tasca un potente computer connesso a Internet e una videocamera in streaming.

La moderna tecnologia mobile trasforma gli esseri umani in nodi di dati ad alta tecnologia, in grado di ricevere e trasmettere informazioni. Quindi un manifestante ora può non solo optare per le istruzioni per un'azione mirata, ma rispondere e ricevere feedback in un modo che li fa sentire personalmente potenziati.

Da un punto di vista, ciò che sta emergendo dalla protesta ad alta tecnologia abilitata per smartphone a pulsante i movimenti, come stiamo vedendo ora in Catalogna e Hong Kong, potrebbero sembrare l'inizio di un nuovo modello di partecipazione democratica – poiché il vecchio ordine della democrazia rappresentativa non riesce a tenere il passo con il cambiamento dei gusti e dei desideri politici, proprio come i governi possono tecnologicamente.

Ma il rischio è che sia solo un'élite tecnologica nel posto di guida del cambio di regime. Ciò si somma alla governance non attraverso processi democratici consolidati ma attraverso gli interessi di un'élite privilegiata con la ricchezza e l'esperienza per hackerare il sistema e crearne di nuovi in ​​grado di mobilitare i cittadini per agire come pedine. hanno bisogno di un certo grado di riforma, ma sono state anche sviluppate e sottoposte a prove di stress nel corso di generazioni. Ciò significa che hanno strati di controlli di responsabilità e di equilibri per cercare di bilanciare gli interessi in competizione.

Lanciare tutto ciò a favore di una "app per la democrazia" sembra il tipo di disgregazione che Facebook si è trasformata in una famigerata arte oscura.

Per i singoli manifestanti, quindi, che partecipano come pedine disponibili a questa protesta abilitata alla piattaforma, potresti chiamarla autodeterminazione in stile selfie; si sentono attivi e presenti; they experience the spectacle of political action which can be instantly and conveniently snapped for channel sharing with other mobilized friends who then reflect social validation back. But by doing all that they’re also giving up their agency.

Because all this ‘protest’ action is flowing across the surface of an asymmetric platform. The infrastructure natively cloaks any centralized interests and at very least allows opaque forces to push a cause at cheap scale.

“I felt so small,” one young female protestor told us, recounting via WhatsApp audio message, what had gone down during a protest action in Barcelona yesterday evening. Things started out fun and peaceful, with participants encouraged to toss toilet rolls up in the air — because, per the organizer’s messaging, ‘there’s a lot of shit to clean up’ — but events took a different turn later, as protestors moved to another location and some began trying to break into a police building.

A truck arrived from a side street being driven by protestors who used it to blockade the entrance to the building to try to stop police getting out. Police warning shots were fired into the air. Then the Spanish national police turned up, driving towards the crowd at high speed and coming armed with rubber not foam bullets.

Faced with a more aggressive police presence the crowd tried to disperse — creating a frightening crush in which she was caught up. “I was getting crushed all the time. It wasn’t fun,” she told us. “We moved away but there was a huge mass of people being crushed the whole time.”

“What was truly scary weren’t the crowds or the bullets, it was not knowing what was going on,” she added.

Yet, despite the fear and uncertainty, she was back out on the streets to protest again the next night — armed  with a smartphone.

Enric Luján, a PhD student and adjunct professor in political science at the University of Barcelona — and also the guy whose incisive Twitter thread fingers the forces behind the Tsunami Democràtic app as a “technological elite” — argues that the movement has essentially created a “human botnet”. This feels like a questionable capability for a pro-democracy movement when combined with its own paradoxically closed structure.

“The intention appears to be to group a mass movement under a label which, paradoxically, is opaque, which carries the real risk of a lack of internal democracy,” Luján tells TechCrunch. “There is a basic paradox in Tsunami Democràtic. That it’s a pro-democracy movement where: 1) the ‘core’ that decides actions is not accessible to other supporters; 2) it has the word ‘Democràtic’ in its name but its protocols as an organization are extremely vertical and are in the hands of an elite that decides the objectives and defines the timing of mobilization; 3) it’s ‘deterritorialized’ with respect to the local reality (unlike the CDRs): opacity and verticality would allow them to lead the entire effort from outside the country.”

Luján believes the movement is essentially a continuation of the same organizing forces which drove support for pro-independence political parties around the 2017 referendum — such as the Catalan cultural organization Òmnium — now coming back together after a period of “strategic readjustment”.

“Shortly after the conclusion of the referendum, through the arrest of its political leaders, the independence movement was ‘decapitated’ and there were months of political paralysis,” he says, arguing that this explains the focus on applying mobile technology in a way that allows for completely anonymous orchestration of protests, as a strategy to protect itself from further arrests.

“This strategic option, of course, entails lack of public scrutiny of the debates and decisions, which is a problem and involves treating people as ‘pawns’ or ‘human botnets’ acting under your direction,” he adds.

He is also critical of the group not having opened the app’s code which has made it difficult to understand exactly how user data is being handled by the app and whether or not there are any security flaws. Essentially, there is no simple way for outsiders to validate trustworthiness.

His analysis of the app’s APK raises further questions. Luján says he believes it also requests microphone permissions in addition to location and camera access (the latter for reading the QR code).

Our source told us that as far as they are aware the app does not access the microphone by default. Though screenshots of requested permissions which have circulated on social media show a toggle where microphone access seems as if it can be enabled.

And, as Luján points out, the prospect of a powerful and opaque entity with access to the real-time location of thousands of people plus the ability to remotely activate smartphone cameras and microphones to surveil people’s surroundings does sound pretty close to the plot of a Black Mirror episode…

Asked whether he believes we’re seeing an emergent model for a more participatory, grassroots form of democracy enabled by modern mobile technologies or a powerful techie elite playing at reco nfiguring existing power structures by building and distributing systems that keep them shielded from democratic view where they can nudge others to spread their message, he says he leans towards the latter.

“It’s a movement with an elite leadership that seems to have had a clear timetable for months. It remains to be seen what they’ll be able to do. But it is clearly not spontaneous (the domain of the website was registered in July) and the application needed months to develop,” he notes. “I am not clear that it can be or was ‘crowdsourced’ — as far as I know, there was no campaign to finance Tsunami or their technological solutions.”

“Release the code,” he adds. “I don’t understand why they haven’t released it. Promising it is easy and is what you expect if you want to present yourself with a minimum of transparency, but there is no defined deadline to do so. For now we have to work with the APK, which is more cumbersome to understand how the app works and how it uses and moves user data.”

“I imagine it is so the police cannot investigate thoroughly, but it also means others lose the possibility of better understanding how a product that’s been designed by people who rely on anonymity works, and have to rely that the elite technologists in charge of developing the app have not committed any security breach.”

So, here too, more questions and more uncertainty.

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Live from Georgetown — Standing For Voice and Free Expression.

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Live from Georgetown — Standing For Voice and Free Expression.

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Zuckerberg spoke today for 40 minutes at Georgetown University and then did a Q&A to share his thoughts on speech and “how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world.” He discussed how “We want the progress of free expression without the tension,” leading people to advocate for pulling back on free expression. “Where do you draw the line?”

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Zuckerberg says that Facebook now has 35,000 people working on security, and the company’s security budget is higher now than the whole revenue of the company when it IPO’d, which was $5 billion in 2012. Facebook removes or downranks content that is objectively dangerous. Still, he says that he doesn’t want to “let the definition of what is dangerous expand beyond what’s absolutely necessary.”

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Coining a new phrase, Zuckerberg noted that “People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world u2014 a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society.”

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On allowing political ads on Facebook even if they carry misinformation, Zuckerberg argues that “political ads can be an important part of voice, especially for local candidates, up and coming challengers and advocacy groups that the media might not otherwise cover. That way they can get their voice into the debate.” While that may be true, the same system allows whichever group or candidate has the most funding to dominate the narrative.

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I recently argued that Facebook should drop all political ads until regulation to prevent their use to spread misinformation was passed. President Trump is spending more than many of his Democratic party rivals combined while using lies about them planning to remove the second amendment to raise money.

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Zuckerberg Georgetown Wideshot

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Still, Zuckerberg argues, “Banning political ads favors incumbents and whoever the media chooses to cover.” He did not address who spends the most or how Facebook could still offer free expression of candidates to their own followers even if it banned political ads. He essentially drew no distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of reach aka paid amplification through ads. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri echoed this sentiment, equating ads and speech, tweeting “I believe that people deserve to hear what politicians are saying and make up their own minds.” After some discussion, though, Mosseri admitted u201cI often wish we couldu201d ban political ads, but said it would be complex to define what did and didnu2019t qualify as one.

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Relying on favoring incumbents argument ignores how President Trump has spent $4.9 million on Facebook ads this year compared to $9.6 million spent by the 23 Democratic candidates combined, and that Trump had outspent them all put together as of March. Banning political ads wouldn’t prevent candidates from saying what they want and being judged, but it would stop richer candidates’ speech from having more weight.

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trump 2020 facebook ads 1558042973182 facebookJumbo v10

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Overall, Zuckerberg sounded more passionate and empathetic than in his recent testimonies on Capitol Hill. He seemed to take on some of the cadence and tone of former President Barack Obama, pitching up his voice to stress the urgency of challenges facing democracy. However, the speech format allowed Zuckerberg to avoid immediate pushback on his points, such as why political advertising favors challengers if it’s incumbents with the most money to spend. Zuckerberg did hold a Q&A after his speechbut the stream of that wasn’t broadcast from his Page like the prepared remarks, and he mostly reiterated points from the speech.

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Zuckerberg drove home one important theme threaded throughout the talk, though. He attempted to link the idea of U.S. companies potentially policing free expression to protect safety and elections with how China censors speech. And while other companies like the NBA and Blizzard that do significant business with the country try to downplay its influence, Zuckerberg spoke up about how the tentacles of China’s values are choking off speech far beyond its borders.

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China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued today in a speech at Georgetown University. He criticized how American companies that do business with China were becoming influenced by the country’s values. […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

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Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

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Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

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Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

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Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

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[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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I would say that FB is also censoring quite heavily.
nAlso, political ads have ALWAYS been iffy. Come on folks!

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i get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at ho me. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I’ve been doing,…… http://www.Your70.Com

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Here’s an honest way to fix all this, at 161 times faster, at lower cost than print or image or video or film, independenrly reviewed online on August 6th, 2019 at cmsvoice.com, from award winning and in global use SPEECH MORPHING “Eradicating Illiteracy(TM), that is safe and secure of high quality automation of any VOICE, in any dialects or languages, wifi, in real time on any platfotm or equipment, croas languages, cross families of languages, voice restoration, music and lyrics, etc. Online FOR FREE download TALKMONDO.COM “The World at the Tip of Your Tongue(TM)”.

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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Mark Zuckerberg Georgetown

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Google Maps is starting to look a lot more like Waze. Google today announced a series of new features that will allow drivers using the Maps app on iOS to report accidents, speed traps and traffic jams. And on both iOS and Android, users will be able to report other driving hazards and incidents, like road construction, lane closures, disabled vehicles and objects in the road — like debris. These are all core Waze features and among the primary reasons why many users opt for Waze over Google Maps.

n

Google had already offered accident, speed trap and traffic slowdown reports on Android before today.

n

The new updates follow a steady launch of Waze-like additions to the Google Maps app.

n

For example, Google launched speed limits and speed trap alerts in more than 40 countries in Google Maps back in May. And it had been testing various driving hazardu00a0alerts before now. Google Maps also previously adopted other Waze features, like the ability to add a stop to your route while in navigation mode, or the ability to view nearby gas prices.Mid trip UGC ReportWhen you’re navigating your route in Google Maps, you can tap to add a report, then choose from a long list that now includes: Crash, Speed Trap, Slowdown, Construction, Lane Closure, Disabled vehicle and Object on Road.

n

With the additions, Google is chipping away at the many reasons why people still turn to Waze.

n

However, Waze is still better for planning a trip by connecting to your personal calendar or Facebook events, while Google Maps has instead focused more on helping users plan their commutes. Waze also is more social and includes a carpooling service.

n

The benefit of more users switching to Maps means more aggregate data to help power Google’s other products. Data collection from Google Maps is behind features like those that show the wait times, popular times and visit duration at local businesses, for example. Plus, Google Maps is a jumping off point for Google’s My Business platform, which has more recently been challenging Facebook Pages by allowing Maps users to follow their favorite businesses to track promotions and events, and even message the businesses directly.

n

Google says the new Google Maps features start rolling out globally on Android and iOS this week.

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Google Maps is starting to look a lot more like Waze. Google today announced a series of new features that will allow drivers using the Maps app on iOS to report accidents, speed traps and traffic jams. And on both iOS and Android, users will be able to report other driving hazards and incidents, like […]

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Really hope this doesn’t mean Google will be killing off Waze

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/17/google-maps-adds-more-waze-like-features-including-driving-incident-reports/#comment-676502","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b5855dc2c48aea076e63a3f869893cb6?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b5855dc2c48aea076e63a3f869893cb6?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/b5855dc2c48aea076e63 a3f8698 93cb6?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"TKB53E7NA3QLIFISZJ23GK6QEN"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/676502"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1899138"}],"children":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?parent=676502"}]}},{"id":676509,"parent":676502,"author":0,"author_name":"Zabih Jan","author_url":"","date":"2019-10-17T14:16:41","content":{"rendered":"

Speedometer was announced more than 6 months ago and still it does not work for me on my note 9

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Airbnb may be another overvalued “unicorn,” but it’s no WeWork.

n

The Information this morning reported new Airbnb financials u2 014 indicating a m assive increase in operating losses u2014 that immediately call Airbnb’s future into question. Precisely, Airbnb lost $306 million on operations on $839 million in revenue, namely as a result of marketing spend, in the first quarter of 2019. In total, Airbnb invested $367 million in sales and marketing, representing a 58% increase year-over-year, in Q1. The company is gearing up for a major liquidity event next year and is making a concerted effort to rake in new customers, as any soon-to-be-public business would.

n

Given WeWork’s sudden demise, coupled with Uber and Lyft’s lukewarm performances on the stock markets, many have wondered how Wall Street will respond to Airbnb’s eventual IPO prospectus. Will money managers have an appetite for another over-valued Silicon Valley darling? Or will the market compete like mad for shares in the massive home-sharing marketplace?

n

But Airbnb, again, is no WeWork, and I wager Wall Street will have a much friendlier approach to its offering. For one, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Chesky isn’t dropping $60 million on private jets u2014 I don’t think. CEO behaviors aside, Airbnb has more capital in the bank than it has raised in its entire 11-year history, which is a whole lot of money. This is all according to a source who is familiar with Airbnbu2019s financials and shared this detail with TechCrunch following The Information’s Thursday morning report. As for Airbnb, the company told TechCrunch, “we canu2019t comment on the figures, but 2019 is a big investment year in support of our hosts and guests.”

n

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014

n

Airbnb has attracted more than $3.5 billion in equity funding at a $31 billion valuation and has even more locked away in its bank account. Additionally, Airbnb has an untouched $1 billion credit line, the source said. Presumably, the referenced credit line is the 2016 $1 billion debt financing from JPMorgan, CitiGroup, Morgan Stanley and others.

n

Moreover, Airbnb has been u201ccumulativelyu201d free cash flow positive for some time, meaning that it’s seen more money coming in than going out during recent quarters, according to our source. It has been reported that Airbnb surpassed $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2019 and in the third quarter of 2018, but we’re guessing the business did not top $1 billion in Q4 of 2018 or Q1 of 2019 because it if had, that information would probably have been “leaked.”

n

Finally, Airbnb has been profitable on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis for two consecutive years, the company announced in January. Gross bookings, meanwhile, are growing, as is Airbnb’s business offering and its experiences product.

n

Why does any of this matter, you ask?

n

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Airbnb may be another overvalued ‘unicorn,’ but it’s no WeWork.u00a0

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Unity built the worldu2019s most popular game engine"},"content":{"rendered":"

What do BMWTencent, Poku00e9mon Go creator Niantic, movie director Jon Favreau and construction giant Skanska have in common? Theyu2019re all using the same platform to create their products.

n

Founded in a small Copenhagen apartment in 2004, Unity Technologiesu2019 makes a game engine u2014 a software platform for building video games. But the company, which was recently valued around $6 billion and could be headed toward an IPOis becoming much more than that.

n

u201cUnity wants to be the 3D operating system of the world,u201d says Sylvio Drouin, VP of the Unity Labs R&D team.

n

Customers can design, buy, or import digital assets like forests, sound effects, and aliens and create the logic guiding how all these elements interact with players. Nearly half of the worldu2019s games are built with Unity, which is particularly popular among mobile game developers.u00a0

n

And in the fourteen years since Unityu2019s engine launched, the size of the global gaming market has exploded from $27 billion to $135 billiondriven by the rise of mobile gaming, which now comprises the majority of the market.

n

Unity is increasingly used for 3D design and simulations across other industries like film, automotive, and architecture and is now used to create 60% of all augmented and virtual reality experiences. That positions Unity u2014 as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg argued in a 2015 memo in favor of acquiring it u2014 as a key platform for the next wave of consumer technology after mobile.

n

Unityu2019s growth is a case study of Clayton Christensenu2019s theory of disruptive innovation. While other game engines targeted the big AAA game makers at the top of the console and PC markets, Unity went after independent developers with a less robust product that was better suited to their needs and budget.u00a0

n

As it gained popularity, the company captured growth in frontier market segments and also expanded upmarket to meet the needs of higher-performance game makers. Today, itu2019s making a push to become the top engine for building anything in interactive 3D.

n

This article is part of my ongoing research into the future of interactive media experiences. This research has included interviews with dozens of developers, executives, and investors in gaming and other industries, including interviews with over 20 Unity executives.

n

Founding

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Unity was founded in Copenhagen by Nicholas Francis, Joachim Ante, and David Helgason. Its story began on an OpenGL forum in May 2002, where Francis posted a call for collaborators on an open source shader-compiler (graphics tool) for the niche population of Mac-based game developers like himself. It was Ante, then a high school student in Berlin, who responded.u00a0

n

Ante complemented Francisu2019 focus on graphics and gameplay with an intuitive sense for back-end architecture. Because the game he was working on with another team wasnu2019t going anywhere, they collaborated on the shader part-time while each pursued their own game engine projects, but decided to combine forces upon meeting in-person. In a sprint to merge the codebases of their engines, they camped out in Helgasonu2019s apartment for several days while he was out of town. The plan was to start a game studio grounded in robust tech infrastructure that could be licensed as well.

n

Helgason and Francis had worked together since high school, working on various web development ventures and even short-lived attempts at film production. Helgason dropped in and out of the University of Copenhagen while working as a freelance web developer. He provided help where he could and joined full-time after several months, selling his small stake in a web development firm to his partners.u00a0

n

According to Ante, Helgason was u201cgood with peopleu201d and more business-oriented, so he took the CEO title after the trio failed to find a more experienced person for the role. (It would be two years before Ante and Francis extended the co-founder title and a corresponding amount of equity to Helgason.)

n

They recruited a rotating cast to help them for free while prototyping a wide range of ideas. The diversity of ideas they pursued resulted in an engine that could handle a broad range of use cases. Commercializing the engine became a focus, as was coming up with a hit game that would show the engine off to its best advantage; for indie developers, having to reconstruct an engine with every new game idea was a pain point that, if solved, would enable more creative output.u00a0

n

Supported by their savings, a u20ac25,000 investment from Anteu2019s father, and Helgasonu2019s part-time job at a cafu00e9they pressed on for three years, incorporating in the second year (2004) with the name Over The Edge Entertainment.

n

The game they ultimately committed to launching in spring 2005, GooBallwas u201cway too hard to play,u201d says Ante and didnu2019t gain much traction. Recognizing that they were better at building development tools and prototypes than commercially-viable games, they bet their company on the goal of releasing a game engine for the small Mac-based developer community. Linking the connotations of collaboration and cross-compatibility, they named the engine Unity.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

What do BMW, Tencent, Poku00e9mon Go creator Niantic, movie director Jon Favreau and construction giant Skanska have in common? Theyu2019re all using the same platform to create their products. Founded in a small Copenhagen apartment in 2004, Unity Technologiesu2019 makes a game engine u2014 a software platform for building video games. But the company, which […]

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Over the past few years, gig economy companies and the treatment of their labor force has become a hot button issue for public and private sector debate.

n

At our recent annual Disrupt event in San Francisco, we dug into how founders, companies and the broader community can play a positive role in the gig economy, with help fromu00a0Derecka Mehrensan executive director atu00a0Worki ng Par tnerships USAu00a0and co-founder ofu00a0Silicon Valley Rising u2014 an advocacy campaign focused on fighting for tech worker rights and creating an inclusive tech economy u2014 andu00a0Amanda de Cadenetfounder ofu00a0Girlgazea platform that connects advertisers with a network of 200,000 female-identifying and non-binary creatives.

n

Derecka and Amanda dove deep into where incumbent gig companies have fallen short, what they’re doing to right the ship, whether VC and hyper-growth mentalities fit into a sustainable gig economy, as well as thoughts on Uber’s new ‘Uber Works’ platform and CA AB-5. The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

n

n

Where current gig companies are failing

n

Arman Tabatabai: What was the original promise and value proposition of the gig economy? What went wrong?

n

Derecka Mehrens: The gig economy exists in a larger context, which is one in which neoliberalism is failing, trickle-down economics is proven wrong, and every day working people aren’t surviving and are looking for something more.

n

And so you have a situation in which the system we put together to create employment, to create our communities, to build our housing, to give us jobs is dysfunctional. And within that, folks are going to come up with disruptive solutions to pieces of it with a promise in mind to solve a problem. But without a larger solution, that will end up, in our view, exacerbating existing inequalities.

n

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Over the past few years, gig economy companies and the treatment of their labor force has become a hot button issue for public and private sector debate. At our recent annual Disrupt event in San Francisco, we dug into how founders, companies and the broader community can play a positive role in the gig economy, […]

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press for yo ur startup: the true role of communications"},"content":{"rendered":"

Welcome to this edition of The Operators, a recurring Extra Crunch column produced by insiders with executive experience at companies like AirBnB, Brex, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Lyft, Slack, Square, Twitter, and Uber, sharing their stories and insights. Itu2019s made for founders who are navigating domains outside their expertise, covering topics they may be learning for the first time like enterprise sales, product management, and finance/accounting.

n

In this episode:

n

    n

  1. When and how should a company seek press coverage?
  2. n

  3. The difference between marketing and communications
  4. n

  5. Building relationships with reporters
  6. n

  7. Being or identifying a great communications leader
  8. n

n

Early on, most founders and investors focus on getting positive press, but if theyu2019re unfortunate or make mistakes, mitigating bad coverage becomes a common goal. Broadly, communications consists of how and what information to share, both inside and outside of the company, touching domains like management, recruiting, marketing, and business development. Itu2019s also highly optimizable and often, mission critical u2014 the difference between dramatic success and catastrophic failure.

n

We spoke with three communications experts to learn more:

n

    n

  • Sean Garrett was Twitter’s first VP of Communications. He previously worked for Governor Pete Wilson of California and has founded two separate communications firms, with clients including Slack, Cisco, and Disney. Heu2019s currently a Managing Partner at Pramana Collective.
  • n

  • Faryl Ury is a former reporter with experience at NPR and the Associated Press. Her communications experience also began in government, working for US Senator Jeanne Shaheen before managing comms at Square and Uber. She was then a marketing executive at Dropbox before becoming the Director of Communications at Aurora, a leading autonomous vehicle company, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Amazon, and Hyundai.
  • n

  • Adi Raval started as a journalist at ABC News and the BBC, covering 9/11, the Iraq War, and the White House. He moved into government as a diplomat for the State Department serving in Afghanistan, and later, as a spokesperson and Director of Communications at USAID. After leaving government, Adi was the top communications executive for the Bechtel Corporation, the Head of Comms and PR for TaskRabbit, and now the Head of Communications at Kodiak Robotics. Heu2019s also a term member for the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • n

n

Below is a synthesized summary of our conversation; check out The Operators for the full episode.

n

When and how should a company seek press coverage?

n

Investors love to see public recognition of their portfolio companies, and founders sometimes believe press coverage will solve all their problems, yielding a panacea of inbound customers, employees, and new backers. Whether itu2019s a fundraising announcement or a product launch, more exposure can only help, right? Of course, thatu2019s not always true. Being unprepared for an influx of inbound interest can lead to bad experiences and a negative reputation.

n

What’s more likely than a bad response? No response at all: reporters are constantly pitched by entrepreneurs seeking coverage who don’t have a compelling story to share, which means most of them are primed to say “no.”

n

Faryl told us that when she asks founders why they want to do press, they often answer, “our investors told us to,” or “I talked to other entrepreneurs and they do press.” Being prepared for the response means knowing what you want the response to be, which in turn means knowing what you have to say, and why anyone will listen and respond the right way. Thinking through this exercise involves asking questions, said Sean, specifically, u201cwhat is your positioning? What is your messaging? And for some organizations, that’s the right first step to figure out, at a high level, what are we even trying to accomplish here…?u201d

n

Having a clear purpose in mind before approaching reporters will also help you execute. For some startups, landing a story with trade press may be better than being written up by a generalized tech publication. On the other hand, if youu2019re spending a ton of money on Facebook and Google to advertise directly to consumers, getting coverage in the right publications may be much more efficient and impactful.u00a0

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Welcome to this edition of The Operators, a recurring Extra Crunch column produced by insiders with executive experience.

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Does TiVo has a future beyond the DVR?

n

Dave Shull certainly hopes so. The former Weather Channel CEO joined the company as president and CEO back in Mayand when I spoke to him last month, he insisted that he’s excited and optimistic about the company’s prospects.

n

In fact, he said the DVR business “is not really TiVo” anymore. And the proliferation of streaming services is exactly what’s creating a big new opportunity for the company, one where it can help consumers navigate the seemingly overwhelming streaming landscape.

n

“Let’s embrace the chaos,” Shull told me. “The more streaming, the better.”

n

In the interview below u2014 which has been edited and condensed for clarity u2014 we discuss why he took on the job, how he plans to split TiVo into two companies and his plans for TiVo+, the company’s ad-supported streaming service (which launched earlier this week.)

n

TechCrunch: It seems like part of the goal with you coming on as CEO is this idea of reinventing the company for the world of streaming.

n

Dave Shull: We fully embrace the streaming wars at TiVo, is what I would say.

n

A little bit of context. I’ve known the company for years, because I’ve been familiar with some of the technology pieces that they had in the IP portfolio. But before I took the job, I talked to CTOs at some of the major operators around the world and said, “TiVo, right? I mean this is a company I’ve heard of, but are they still around?” And the answer consistently was, “Yeah, it’s actually the best technology out there.”

n

So I started talking to the board and eventually I get the job offer. I walk into a Best Buy and I pick up a Roku box and a TiVo box. I install the Roku box. It’s a brilliant installation process, absolutely brilliant. But then what it gives you is a bunch of different tiles for each of the apps. And so you have to figure out, okay, was that show on Netflix or Hulu?

n

The TiVo experience was a little bit u2014 it needed some more work, is the polite way to say it. But once I had it installed, it’s taken my live TV and my on-demand Prime, Netflix, Hulu and some digital content and pulled it all together. That’s pretty cool because it’s allowing me to find the entertainment that I want to watch tonight, right?

n

And so we’re betting on this chaos of applications that are out there with the streaming wars, saying people are having fatigue from subscriptions and they are desperate to find an amazing way to go back to enjoying watching their TV again. They want someone who can bring all this entertainment together u2014 on-demand, live, digital u2014 and make it fun to find, to watch TV again. So that’s our mission. Very simple.

n

I came in three months ago. The first mandate is, we’ve decided to split the company. So about half of the company is an IP portfolio, 5,000 patents. Then we have the TiVo product base u2014 and everyone thinks of TiVo as this DVR that you buy at Best Buy. That’s really not TiVo, that’s a tiny fraction of our customers. We have 22 million households around the world that use TiVo to provide exactly what I just said, which is this amazing ability to find entertainment.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Does TiVo has a future beyond the DVR? Dave Shull certainly hopes so. The former Weather Channel CEO joined the company as president and CEO back in May, and when I spoke to him last month, he insisted that he’s excited and optimistic about the company’s prospects. In fact, he said the DVR business “is […]

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Anthony Ha is a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising and co-hosts the Original Content podcast. Previously, he worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, and a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance. He lives in New York City.

","cbAvatar":"https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/vlqk5j1ukg37id0pflay","twitter":"anthonyha","_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/31035538"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users"}]}}],"author":[{"id":31035538"name":"AnthonyHa""url":"""description":"""link":"https://techcrunchcom/author/anthony-ha/""slug":"anthony-ha""avatar_urls":{"24":"https://securegravatarcom/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=24&d=identicon&r=g""48":"https://securegravatarcom/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=48&d=identicon&r=g""96":"https://securegravatarcom/avatar/72b358648f4587cc2a11895c32b8e979?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"}"links":{"facebook":"https://wwwfacebookcom/anthonyha""twitter":"https://twittercom/anthonyha""linkedin":"http://wwwlinkedincom/in/anthonyha""crunchbase":"https://wwwcrunchbasecom/person/anthony-ha"}"position":"SeniorWriter""cbDescription":"

Anthony Ha i s a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising and co-hosts the Original Content podcast. Previously, he worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, and a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance. He lives in New York City.

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Is our age of ubiquitous smartphones and social media turning into an era of mass civil unrest? Two years after holding an independence referendum and unilaterally declaring independence in defiance of the Spanish state — then failing to gain recognition for la repu00fablica and being forced to watch political leaders jailed or exiled — Catalonia’s secessionist movement has resurfaced with a major splash.

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One of the first protest actions programmed by a new online activist group, calling itself Tsunami Democru00e0ticsaw thousands of protestors coalescing on Barcelona airport Monday, in an attempt to shut it down. The protest didn’t quite do that but it did lead to major disruption, with roads blocked by human traffic as protestors walked down the highway and the cancelation of more than 100 flights, plus hours of delays for travellers arriving into El Prat.

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For months leading up to a major Supreme Court verdict on the fate of imprisoned Catalan political leaders a ‘technical elite‘ — as one local political science academic described them this week — has been preparing to reboot Catalonia’s independence movement by developing bespoke, decentralized high-tech protest tools.

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A source with knowledge of Tsunami Democru00e0tic, speaking to TechCrunch on condition of anonymity, told us that “high level developers” located all around the world are involved in the effort, divvying up coding tasks as per any large scale IT project and leveraging open source resources (such as the RetroShare node-based netwo rking platform) to channel grassroots support for independence into a resilient campaign network that can’t be stopped by the arrest of a few leaders.

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Demonstrators at the airport on Monday were responding directly to a call to blockade the main terminal posted to the group’s Telegram channel.

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Additional waves of protest are being planned and programmed via a bespoke Tsunami Democru00e0tic app that was also released this week for Android smartphones — as a sideload, not yet a Google Play download.

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The app is intended to supplement mainstream social network platform broadcasts by mobilizing smaller, localized groups of supporters to carry out peaceful acts of civil disobedience all over Catalonia.

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Our source walked us through the app, which requires location permission to function in order that administrators can map available human resources to co-ordinate protests. We’re told a user’s precise location is not shared but rather that an obfuscated, more fuzzy location marker gets sent. However the app’s source code has not yet been open sourced so users have to take such claims on trust (open sourcing is said to be the plan — but only once the app has been scrubbed of any identifying traces, per the source).

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The app requires a QR code to be activated. This is a security measure intended to manage activation in stages, via trusted circles of acquaintances, to limit the risk of infiltration by state authorities. Though it feels a bit like a viral gamification tactic to encourage people to spread the word and generate publicity organically by asking their friends if they have a code or not.

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Whatever it’s really for the chatter seems to be working. During our meeting over coffee we overheard a group of people sitting at another table talking about the app. And at the time of writing Tsunami Democru00e0tic has announced 15,000 successful QR code activations so far. Though it’s not clear how successful the intended flashmob civil disobedience game-plan will be at this nascent stage.

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Once activated, app users are asked to specify their availability (i.e. days and times of day) for carrying out civil disobedience actions. And to specify if they own certain mobility resources which could be utilized as part of a protest (e.g. car, scooter, bike, tractor).

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Examples of potential actions described to us by our source were go-slows to bring traffic grinding to a halt and faux shopping sprees targeting supermarkets where activists could spend a few hours piling carts high with goods before leaving them abandoned in the store for someone else to clean up.

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One actual early action carried out by activists from the group last month targeted a branch of the local CaixaBank with a masked protestor sit-in.

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Our source said the intention is to include a pop-up in the app as a sort of contract of conscience which asks users to confirm participation in the organized chaos will be entirely peaceful. Here’s an example of what the comprometo looks like:

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TD-app

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Users are also asked to confirm both their intention to participate in a forthcoming action (meaning the app will capture attendance numbers for protests ahead of time) and to check in when they get there so its administrators can track actual participation in real-time.

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The app doesn’t ask for any personal data during onboarding — there’s no account creation etc — although users are agreeing to their location being pervasively tracked.

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And it’s at least possible that other personal data could be passed via, for example, a comment submission field that lets people send feedback on actions. Or if the app ends up recording other data via access to smartphone sensors.

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The other key point is that users only see actions related to their stated availability and tracked location. So, from a protestor’s point of view, they see only a tiny piece of the Tsunami Democru00e0tic protest program. The user view is decentralized and information is distributed strictly piecemeal, on a need to know basis.

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Behind the scenes — where unknown administrators are accessing its data and devising and managing protest actions to distribute via the app — there may be an entirely centralized view of available human protest resources. But it’s not clear what the other side of the platform looks like. Our source was unable to show it to us or articulate what it looks like.

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Certainly, administrators are in a position to cancel planned actions if, for example, there’s not enough participation — meaning they can invisibly manage external optics around engagement with the cause. Not enough foot soldiers for a planned protest? Just call it off quietly via the app.

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Also not at all clear: Who the driving forces are behind the Tsunami Democru00e0tic protest mask?

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“There is no thinking brain, there are many brains,” a spokesman for the movement told the El Diario newspaper this week. But that does raise pretty major questions about democratic legitimacy. Because, well, if you’re claiming to be fighting for democracy by mobilizing popular support, and you’re doing it from inside a Western democracy, can you really claim that while your organization remains in the shadows?

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Even if your aim is non-violent political protest, and your hierarchy is genuinely decentralized, which is the suggestive claim here, unless you’re offering transparency of structure so as to make your movement’s composition and administration visible to outside scrutiny (so that your claims of democratic legitimacy can be independently verified) then individual protestors (the app’s end users) just have to take your word for it.

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End users who are being crowdsourced and coopted to act out via app instruction as if they’re pawns on a high tech chess board. They are also being asked (implicitly) to shoulder direct personal risk in order that a faceless movement generates bottom up political pressure.

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So there’s a troubling contradiction here for a movement that has chosen to include the word ‘democractic’ in its name. (The brand is a reference to a phase used by jailed Catalan cultural leader, Jordi Cuixart.) Who or what is powering this wave?

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Tsunami Democratic

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We also now know all too well how the double-sided nature of platforms means these fast-flowing technosocial channels can easily be misappropriated by motivated interest groups to gamify and manipulate opinion (and even action) en masse. This has been made amply clear in recent years with political disinformation campaigns mushrooming into view all over the online place.

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So while emoji-strewn political protest messages calling for people to mobilize at a particular street corner might seem a bit of harmless ‘Pokemon Go’-style urban fun, the upshot can — and this week has — been far less predictable and riskier than its gamified packaging might suggest.

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Plenty of protests have gone off peacefully, certainly. Others — often those going on after dusk and late into the night — have devolved into ugly scenes and destructive clashes.

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There is clearly a huge challenge for decentralized movements (and indeed technologies) when it comes to creating legitimate governance structures that don’t simply repeat the hierarchies of the existing (centralized) authorities and systems they’re seeking to challenge.

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The anarchy-loving crypto community’s inability to coalesce around a way to progress with blockchain technology looks like its own self-defeating irony. A faceless movement fighting for ‘democracy’ from behind an app mask that allows its elite string-pullers and data crunchers to remain out of sight risks looking like another.

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None of the protestors we’ve spoken to could say for sure who’s behind Tsunami Democru00e0tic. One suggested it’s just “citizens” or else the same people who helped organize the 2017 Catalan independence referendum — managing the movement of ballot papers into and out of an unofficial network of polling stations so that votes could be collected and counted despite Spanish authorities’ best efforts to seize and destroy them.

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There was also a sophisticated technology support effort at the time to support the vote and ensure information about polling stations remained available in the face of website takedowns by the Spanish state.

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Our source was equally vague when asked who is behind the Tsunami Democru00e0tic app. Which, if the decentralizing philosophy does indeed run right through the network — as a resilience strategy to protect its members from being ratted out to the police — is what you’d expected.

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Any single node wouldn’t know or want to know much of other nodes. But that just leaves a vacuum at the core of the thing which looks alien to democratic enquiry.

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One thing Tsunami Democru00e0tic has been at pains to make plain in all (visible) communications to its supporters is that protests must be peaceful. But, again, while technology tools are great enablers itu2019s not always clear exactly what fire youu2019re lighting once momentum is pooled and channeled. And protests which started peacefully this week have devolved into running battles with police with missiles being thrown, fires lit and rubber bullets fired.

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Some reports have suggested overly aggressive police response to crowds gathering has triggered and flipped otherwise calm protestors. What’s certain is there are injuries on both sides. Today almost 100 people were reported to have been hurt across three nights of protest action. A general strike and the biggest manifestation yet is planned for Friday in Barcelona. So the city is braced for more trouble as smartphone screens blink with fresh protest instructions.

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Social media is of course a conduit for very many things. At its most corporate and anodyne its stated mission can be expressed flavorlessly — as with Facebook’s claimed purpose of u2018connecting peopleu2019. (Though distracting and/or outraging is often closer to the mark.)

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In practice, thanks to human nature — so that means political agendas, financial interests and all the rest of our various and frequently conflicting desires u2014 all sorts of sparks can fly. None more visibly than during mass mobilizations where groups with a shared agenda rapidly come together to amplify a cause and agitate for change.

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Even movements that start with the best intentions — and put their organizers and administration right out in the open for all to see and query — can lose control of outcomes.

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Not least because malicious outsiders often seize the opportunity to blend in and act out, using the cover of an organized protest to create a violent disturbance. (And there have been some reports filtering across Catalan social media claiming right wing thugs have been causing trouble and that secret police are intentionally stirring things up to smear the movement.)

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BARCELONA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 17: Protesters take to the streets to demonstrate after the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between 9 and 13 years in prison for their role of the 2017 failed Catalan referendum on October 17, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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So if a highly charged political campaign is being masterminded and micromanaged remotely, by unknown entities shielded behind screens, there are many more questions we need to be asking about where the balance of risk and power lies, as well as whether a badge of ‘pro-democracy’ can really be justified.

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For Tsunami Democru00e0tic and Catalonia’s independence movement generally this week’s protests look to be just the start of a dug-in, tech-fuelled guerrilla campaign of civil disobedience — to try to force a change of political weather. Spain also has yet another general election looming so the timing offers the whiff of opportunity.

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The El Prat blockade that kicked off the latest round of Catalan unrest seemed intended to be a flashy opening drama. To mirror and reference the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong — which made the international airport there a focal point for its own protests, occupying the terminal building and disrupting flights in an attempt to draw the world’s attention to their plight.

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In a further parallel with protests in Hong Kong a crowdsourced map similar to HKmaps.live — the app that dynamically maps street closures and police presence by overlaying emoji onto a city view — is also being prepared for Catalonia by those involved in the pro-independence movement.

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At the time of writing a handful of emoji helicopters, road blocks and vans are visible on a map of Barcelona. Tapping on an emoji brings up dated details such as what a police van was doing and whether it had a camera. A verified status suggests multiple reports will be required before an icon is displayed. We understand people will be able to report street activity for live-mapping via a Telegram bot.

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Screenshot of Catalan live map for crowdsourcing street intel

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Our source suggested police presence on the map might be depicted by chick emojis. Aka Piolu00edn: The Spanish name for the Loony Tunes cartoon character Tweety Pie — a reference to a colorfully decorated cruise ship used to house scores of Spanish national police in Barcelona harbor during the 2017 referendum, providing instant meme material. Though the test version we’ve seen seems to be using a mixture of dogs and chicks.

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Along with the Tsunami Democru00e0tic app the live map means there will soon be two bespoke tools supporting a campaign of civil disobedience whose unknown organizers clearly hope will go the distance.

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As we’ve said, the identities of the people coordinating the rebooted movement remain unclear. It’s also unclear who if anyone is financing it.

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Our source suggested technical resources to run and maintain the apps are being crowdsourced by volunteers. But some commentators argue that a source of funding would be needed to support everything that’s being delivered, technically and logistically. The app certainly seems far more sophisticated than a weekend project job.

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There has been some high level public expressions of support for Tsunami Democru00e0tic — such as from former Barcelona football club trainer, Pep Guardiola, who this week put out a video badged with the Tsunami D logo in which he defends the democratic right to assembly and protest, warning that free speech is being threatened and claiming “Spain is experiencing a drift towards authoritarianism”. So wealthy backers of Catalan independence aren’t exactly hard to find.

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Whoever is involved behind the scenes — whether with financing or just technical and organization support — it’s clear that ‘free’ protest energy is being liberally donated to the cause by a highly engaged population of pro-independence supporters.

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Grassroots support for Catalan independence is both plentiful, highly engaged, geographically dispersed and cuts across generations — sometimes in surprising ways. One mother we spoke to who said she was too ill to go to Monday’s airport protest recounted her disappointment when her teenage kids told her they weren’t going because they wanted to finish their homework.

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Very many protestors did go though, answering calls to action in their messaging apps or via the printable posters made available online by Tsunami Democru00e0tic which some street protestors have been pictured holding.

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Thousands of demonstrators occupied the main Barcelona airport terminal building, sat and sang protest songs, daubed quasi apologetic messages on the windows in English (saying a lack of democracy is worse than missing a flight), and faced off to lines of police in riot gear — including units of Spanish national police discharging rubber bullets. One protestor was later reported by local press to have lost an eye.

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‘It’s time to make our voice heard in the world,’ runs Tsunami Democru00e0tic’s message on Telegram calling for a blockade of the airport. It then sets out the objective (an airport shut down) and instructs supporters that all forms of transport are “valid” to further the mission of disrupting business as usual. ‘Share and see you all at T1!’ it ends. Around 240,000 people saw the instruction, per Telegram’s ephemeral view counts.

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Demonstrators during a protest against the jailing of Catalan separatists at El Prat airport in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo by Iranzu Larrasoana Oneca/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Later the same evening the channel sent another message instructing protestors to call it a night. ‘Today we have been a tsunami,’ it reads in Catalan. ‘We will make every victory a mobilization. We have started a cycle of non-violent, civil disobedience.’ At the time of writing that follow-on missive has registered 300k+ views.

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While Tsunami Democru00e0tic is just one of multiple pro-independence groups arranging and mobilizing regional protests — such as the CDRs, aka Comites de Defensa de la Republicawhich have been blocking highways in Catalonia for the past two years — it’s quickly garnered majority momentum since quietly uncloaking this summer.

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Its Telegram channel — which was only created in August — has piled on followers in recent weeks. Other pro-independence groups are also sharing news and distributing plans over Telegram’s platform and, more widely, on social media outlets such as twitter. Though none has amassed such a big following, nor indeed with such viral speed.

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Even Anonymous Catalonia’s Telegram channel, which has been putting out a steady stream of unfiltered crowdsourced protest content this week — replete with videos of burning bins, siren blaring police vans and scattering crowds, interspersed with photos of empty roads (successful blockades) and the odd rubber bullet wound — only has a ‘mere’ 100k+ subscribers.

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And while Facebook-owned WhatsApp was a major first source of protest messaging around the 2017 Catalan referendum, with Telegram just coming on stream as an alternative for trying to communicate out of sight of the Spanish state, the protest mobilization baton appears to have been passed more fully to Telegram now.

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Perhaps that’s partly due to an element of mistrust around mainstream platforms controlled by tech giants who might be leant on by states to block content (Tsunami Democru00e0tic has said it doesn’t yet have an iOS version of its app, despite many requests for one, because the ‘politics of the App Store is very restrictive’ — making a direct reference to Apple pulling the HKmaps app from its store). Whereas Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, is famously resistant to authoritarian state power.

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Though, most likely, it’s a result of some powerful tools Telegram provides for managing and moderating channels.

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The upshot is Telegram’s messaging platform has enjoyed a surge in downloads in Spain during this month’s regional unrest — as WhatsApp-loving locals flirt with a rival platform also in response to calls from their political channels to get on Telegram for detailed instructions of the next demo.

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Per App Annie, Telegram has leapt up the top free downloads charts for Google Play in Spain — rising from eleventh place into the third spot this month. While, for iOS, it’s holding steady in the top free downloads slot.

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Also growing in parallel: Unrest on Catalonia’s streets.

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Since Monday’s airport protest tensions have certainly escalated. Roads across the region have been blockaded. Street furniture and vehicles torched. DIY missiles thrown at charging police.

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By Thursday morning there were reports of police firing teargas and police vehicles being driven at high speed around protesting crowds of youths. Two people were reported run over.

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Anti-riot police officers shoot against protesters after a demonstration called by the local Republic Defence Committees (CDR) in Barcelona on October 17, 2019. – After years of peaceful separatist demonstrations, violence finally exploded on the Catalan streets this week, led by activists frustrated by the political paralysis and infuriated by the Supreme Court’s conviction of nine of its leaders over a failed independence bid. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Helicopters have become a routine sound ripping up the urban night sky. While the tally of injury counts continues rising on both sides. And all the while there are countless videos circulating on social media to be sifted through to reinforce your own point of view — screening looping clashes between protestors and baton wielding police. One video doing the rounds last night appeared to show protestors targeting a police helicopter with fireworks. Russian propaganda outlets have of course been quick to seize on and amplify divisive visuals.

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The trigger for a return to waves of technology-fuelled civil disobedience — as were also seen across Catalonia around the time of the 2017 referendum — are lengthy prison terms handed down by Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday. Twelve political and civic society leaders involved in the referendum were convicted, nine on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds. None were found guilty of the more serious charge of rebellion — but the sentences were still harsh, ranging from 13 years to nine.

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The jailed leaders — dubbed presos polu00edtics (aka political prisoners) by Catalan society, which liberally deploys yellow looped-ribbons as a solidarity symbol in support of the presos — had already spent almost two years in prison without bail.

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A report this week in El Diario, citing a source in Tsunami Democru00e0tic, suggests the activist movement was established in response to a growing feeling across the region’s independence movement that a new way of mobilizing and carrying out protests was needed in the wake of the failed 2017 independence bid.

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The expected draconian Supreme Court verdict marked a natural start-date for the reboot.

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A reboot has been necessary because, with so many of its figureheads in prison — and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in exile in Brussels — there has been something of a leadership vacuum for the secessionist cause.

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That coupled with a sense of persecution at the hands of a centralized state which suspended Catalonia’s regional autonomy in the wake of the illegal referendum, invoking a ‘nuclear option’ constitutional provision to dismiss the government and call fresh elections, likely explains why the revived independence movement has been taking inspiration from blockchain-style decentralization.

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Our source also told us blockchain thinking has informed the design and structure of the app.

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Discussing the developers who have pulled the app together they said it’s not only a passionately engaged Catalan techie diaspora, donating their time and expertise to help civic soci ety respond to what’s seen as long-standing political persecution, but — more generally — coders and technologists with an interest in participating in what they hope will be the largest experiment in participatory democracy and peaceful civil disobedience.

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The source pointed to research conducted by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, who found non-violent, civil disobedience campaigns to be a far more powerful way of shaping world politics than violence. She also found such campaigns need engage only 3.5% of the population to succeed. And at 300k+ subscribers Tsunami Democru00e0tic’s Telegram channel may have already passed that threshold, given the population of Catalonia is only around 7.6M.

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It sounds like some of the developers helping the movement are being enticed by the prospect of applying powerful mobile platform technologies to a strong political cause as a way to stress testing democratic structures — and perhaps play at reconfiguring them. If the tools are successful at capturing intention and sustaining action and so engaging and activating citizens in a long term political campaign.

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We’re told the stated intention to open source the app is also a goal in order to make it available for other causes to pick up and use to press for change. Which does start to sound a little bit like regime change as a service…

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Stepping back, there is also a question of whether micromanaged civic disobedience is philosophically different to more organic expressions of discontent.

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There is an element of non-violent protest being weaponized against an opponent when you’re running it via an app. Because the participants are being remotely controlled and coordinated at a distance, at the same time as ubiquitous location-sensitive mobile technologies mean the way in which the controlling entity speaks to them can be precisely targeted to push their buttons and nudge action.

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Yes, it’s true that the right to peaceful assembly and protest is a cornerstone of democracy. Nor is it exactly a new phenomenon that mobile technology has facilitated this democratic expression. In journalist Giles Tremlett’s travelogue book about his adopted country, Ghosts of Spain, he recounts how in the days following the 2004 Madrid train bombings anonymous text messages started to spread via mobile phone — leading to mass, spontaneous street demonstrations.

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At the time there were conflicting reports of who was responsible for the bombings, as the government sought to blame the Basque terrorist group ETA for what would turn out to be the work of Islamic terrorists. Right on the eve of an election voters in Spain were faced with a crucial political decision — having just learnt that the police had in fact arrested three Moroccans for the bomb attacks, suggesting the government had been lying.

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“A new political phenomenon was born that day — the instant text message demonstration,” Tremlett writes. “Anonymous text messages began to fly from mobile phone to mobile phone. They became known as the pu00e1salo messages, because each ended with an exhortation to ‘Pass it on’. It was like chain mail, but instant.”

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More than fifteen years on from those early days of consumer mobile technology and SMS text messaging, instant now means so much more than it did — with almost everyone in a wealthy Western region like Catalonia carrying a powerful, Internet-connected computer and streaming videocamera in their pocket.

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Modern mobile technology turns humans into high tech data nodes, capable of receiving and transmitting information. So a protestor now can not only opt in to instructions for a targeted action but respond and receive feedback in a way that makes them feel personally empowered.

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From one perspective, what’s emerging from high tech ‘push button’ smartphone-enabled protest movements, like we’re now seeing in Catalonia and Hong Kong, might seem to represent the start of a new model for democratic participation — as the old order of representative democracy fails to keep pace with changing political tastes and desires, just as governments can’t keep up technologically.

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But the risk is it’s just a technological elite in the regime-change driving seat. Which sums to governance not by established democratic processes but via the interests of a privileged elite with the wealth and expertise to hack the system and create new ones that can mobilize citizens to act like pawns.

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Established democratic processes may indeed be flawed and in need of a degree of reform but they have also been developed and stress-tested over generations. Which means they have layers of accountability checks and balances baked in to try to balance out competing interests.

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Throwing all that out in favor of a ‘democracy app’ sounds like the sort of disruption Facebook has turned into an infamous dark art.

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For individual protestors, then, who are participating as willing pawns in this platform-enabled protest, you might call it selfie-style self-determination; they get to feel active and present; they experience the spectacle of political action which can be instantly and conveniently snapped for channel sharing with other mobilized friends who then reflect social validation back. But by doing all that they’re also giving up their agency.

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Because all this ‘protest’ action is flowing across the surface of an asymmetric platform. The infrastructure natively cloaks any centralized interests and at very least allows opaque forces to push a cause at cheap scale.

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“I felt so small,” one young female protestor told us, recounting via WhatsApp audio message, what had gone down during a protest action in Barcelona yesterday evening. Things started out fun and peaceful, with participants encouraged to toss toilet rolls up in the air — because, per the organizer’s messaging, ‘there’s a lot of shit to clean up’ — but events took a different turn later, as protestors moved to another location and some began trying to break into a police building.

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A truck arrived from a side street being driven by protestors who used it to blockade the entrance to the building to try to stop police getting out. Police warning shots were fired into the air. Then the Spanish national police turned up, driving towards the crowd at high speed and coming armed with rubber not foam bullets.

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Faced with a more aggressive police presence the crowd tried to disperse — creating a frightening crush in which she was caught up. “I was getting crushed all the time. It wasn’t fun,” she told us. “We moved away but there was a huge mass of people being crushed the whole time.”

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“What was truly scary weren’t the crowds or the bullets, it was not knowing what was going on,” she added.

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Yet, despite the fear and uncertainty, she was back out on the streets to protest again the next night — armedu00a0 with a smartphone.

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Enric Luju00e1n, a PhD student and adjunct professor in political science at the University of Barcelona — and also the guy whose incisive Twitter thread fingers the forces behind the Tsunami Democru00e0tic app as a “technological elite” — argues that the movement has essentially created a “human botnet”. This feels like a questionable capability for a pro-democracy movement when combined with its own paradoxically closed structure.

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“The intention appears to be to group a mass movement under a label which, paradoxically, is opaque, which carries the real risk of a lack of internal democracy,” Luju00e1n tells TechCrunch. “There is a basic paradox in Tsunami Democru00e0tic. That it’s a pro-democracy movement where: 1) the ‘core’ that decides actions is not accessible to other supporters; 2) it has the word ‘Democru00e0tic’ in its name but its protocols as an organization are extremely vertical and are in the hands of an elite that decides the objectives and defines the timing of mobilization; 3) it’s ‘deterritorialized’ with respect to the local reality (unlike the CDRs): opacity and verticality would allow them to lead the entire effort from outside the country.”

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Luju00e1n believes the movement is essentially a continuation of the same organizing forces which drove support for pro-independence political parties around the 2017 referendum — such as the Catalan cultural organization u00d2mnium — now coming back together after a period of “strategic readjustment”.

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“Shortly after the conclusion of the referendum, through the arrest of its political leaders, the independence movement was ‘decapitated’ and there were months of political paralysis,” he says, arguing that this explains the focus on applying mobile technology in a way that allows for completely anonymous orchestration of protests, as a strategy to protect itself from further arrests.

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“This strategic option, of course, entails lack of public scrutiny of the debates and decisions, which is a problem and involves treating people as ‘pawns’ or ‘human botnets’ acting under your direction,” he adds.

n

He is also critical of the group not having opened the app’s code which has made it difficult to understand exactly how user data is being handled by the app and whether or not there are any security flaws. Essentially, there is no simple way for outsiders to validate trustworthiness.

n

His analysis of the app’s APK raises further questions. Luju00e1n says he believes it also requests microphone permissions in addition to location and camera access (the latter for reading the QR code).

n

Our source told us that as far as they are aware the app does not access the microphone by default. Though screenshots of requested permissions which have circulated on social media show a toggle where microphone access seems as if it can be enabled.

n

n

n

n

And, as Luju00e1n points out, the prospect of a powerful and opaque entity with access to the real-time location of thousands of people plus the ability to remotely activate smartphone cameras and microphones to surveil people’s surroundings does sound pretty close to the plot of a Black Mirror episode…

n

n

n

n

Asked whether he believes weu2019re seeing an emergent mod el for a more participatory, grassroots form of democracy enabled by modern mobile technologies or a powerful techie elite playing at reconfiguring existing power structures by building and distributing systems that keep them shielded from democratic view where they can nudge others to spread their message, he says he leans towards the latter.

n

“It’s a movement with an elite leadership that seems to have had a clear timetable for months. It remains to be seen what they’ll be able to do. But it is clearly not spontaneous (the domain of the website was registered in July) and the application needed months to develop,” he notes. “I am not clear that it can be or was ‘crowdsourced’ — as far as I know, there was no campaign to finance Tsunami or their technological solutions.”

n

“Release the code,” he adds. “I don’t understand why they haven’t released it. Promising it is easy and is what you expect if you want to present yourself with a minimum of transparency, but there is no defined deadline to do so. For now we have to work with the APK, which is more cumbersome to understand how the app works and how it uses and moves user data.”

n

“I imagine it is so the police cannot investigate thoroughly, but it also means others lose the possibility of better understanding how a product that’s been designed by people who rely on anonymity works, and have to rely that the elite technologists in charge of developing the app have not committed any security breach.”

n

So, here too, more questions and more uncertainty.

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Is our age of ubiquitous smartphones and social media turning into an era of mass civil unrest? Two years after holding an independence referendum and unilaterally declaring independence in defiance of the Spanish state — then failing to gain recognition for la repu00fablica and being forced to watch political leaders jailed or exiled — Catalonia’s […]

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Well written.

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