Posted by: bluesyemre | December 15, 2015

Backslash is a new anti-surveillance toolkit for protesters


Backslash — an “art/design” project from NYU Interactive Technology Program researchers Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira — is a set of high-tech tools for protesters facing down a “hyper-militarized,” surviellance-heavy state adversary, including a device to help protesters keep clear of police kettles; a jammer to foil Stingray mobile-phone surveillance; a mesh-networking router; a “personal cloud” that tries to mirror photos and videos from a protest to an offsite location; and tools for covertly signalling situational reports to other protesters.

The kit was inspired by the experiences of protesters at the Gezi Park demonstrations in Turkey; the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution; and Brazil’s Vinegar Revolt. The designers don’t plan on making the kit available; instead, it’s designed as a “provocation” to stimulate discussion about the nature of protest in the 21st century.

One activist told Ars Technica’s Joshua Kopstein that he advised against carrying high-tech gear (or even running shoes or a camera) to a protest, to prevent the police from targeting you. Backslash’s designers acknowledge that if their tools were deployed in the field, they’d have to be disguised to prevent such a crackdown — the demo/prototypes are designed with a kind of cinematic chicness that conveys protest-cool in a very eye-catching way.

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