Information warfare is being waged at this very moment. I hope the Pentagram is taking notes. The doughy members of the 101st Internet Commando, Foreign Slackers detachment, are fighting the Government of Iran over the right to transmit and receive information from the turmoil within Iran.
Among other modest successes, people managed to get the fine folks of Anonymous involved in the fight. Several hundred proxy servers have been set up to help the protesters within Iran get the word out to the rest of the world.
The Iranian government has been counter-attacking by waging war against the tools of communication. Computers and satellite dishes are being destroyed, and anyone found in possession of PDAs or cellphones risk severe beatings (at minimum). The government has also tried jamming private communication lines into the country, and a large number of spurious Twitter users have begun spamming the few remaining communication links with vast amounts of nonsense ina (so far vain) attempt to drown out the real information with noise. To quote Mr. Universe, “You can’t stop the signal!”
From BoingBoing, here is a basic primer on cyber-warfare for those considering helping out:
Cyberwar guide for Iran elections
Posted by Cory Doctorow, June 16, 2009 3:25 AM
Yishay sez, “The road to hell is paved with the best intentions (including mine). Learn how to actually help the protesters and not the gov’t in Iran.”
The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.
1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.
2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.
3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.
4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.
5. Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind…
Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Results not typical. Consult your physician or Lawn-care professional before using. Discontinue use if a rash develops.
Note that the so-called mainstream media in the US has utterly dropped the ball on this moment in history. Once CNN finally got their heads out of their collective fundaments, they immediately proceeded to try (in vain) to play catch-up. Among other things, the fine folks at CNN (among others) decided to make sure the whole world- specifically including the government of Iran- knew all about a person going by the Twitter handle persiankiwi. This person has been providing invaluable commentary and imagery from Tehran throughout the current crisis- almost all of which has later been verified by outside sources. Thanks to the lamestream media, however, his identity is now known to the Basij, and he is being hunted. So much for the “most trusted name in news”. Lest I be accused of singling out the US media for special opprobrium, let it also be known that Al Jezira also took the time to publish the names and identities of numerous Twitter commenters from inside Iran. Way to go, fellas.
Updates so far: The Basij (with or without backing from the Revolutionary Guard) began surrounding university dormitories as night fell. Hundreds of students are alleged to have been arrested. Unconfirmed reports from within Tehran say that the hospitals are all guarded by uniformed and plain-clothes police, and wounded protesters are either denied treatment or immediately arrested. Other reports claim that the death toll is being deliberately under-reported by the government, and the victims’ bodies are being removed by the Basij. At least two Basij barracks buildings have been destroyed and at least two of the secret police have been killed. Unconfirmed reports state that three Republican Guard officers have been arrested for conspiring with the regular army to join the protesters. Further unconfirmed reports state that several of the most revered clerics in Iran have publicly sided with the protesters.
FARK.com (among many other sites) has been providing around-the-clock coverage from Iran by posting Twitter reports in comment threads, commenters who have phone or other communications inside Iran, and generally keeping tabs on the infowar in progress. Despite my sneering remarks, I am impressed by the way people from all over the world have stepped up to help out total strangers from half-way around the planet. A new day is dawning- not just for the people in Iran, but for the rest of the world as well. Information warfare is coming of age- right in front of our eyes. Watch in awe.
“Can’t stop the signal!”
Current status: Absorbed
Current music: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin