The Book of Army Management says: On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.
Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point.
--Sun Tzu, The Art of WarCommunications were deemed important even 2,500 years ago when The Art of War was penned. Without communications, you're operating in a vacuum.
Look what happens regularly in China, and what worked for a short period of time in Egypt: The government shuts down or restricts access to the Internet and other mediums of communication.
What is really a more important lesson is that these government actions regularly fail. Why? Because people find ways around the roadblocks.
There was a great article in PC Word ("Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down") that discusses a number of things you can do to get access to the Internet during difficult times. Many of the options are uber-techy, some are pretty practical.
One of the key things to remember is that it is virtually impossible to fully disable the Internet. It's not as if there is a single "kill switch" like on a lamp in your living room. The Internet is a collection of inter-connected private networks to which the owners have decided to allow access. It's a network of networks.
The biggest soft spots to the Internet are these massive servers called NAPs, or Network Access Points. These act as the traffic cops to route information requests and retrievals.
Hypothetically, the government could shut these down - at least the ones located on American soil. This is VERY unlikely, for a number of reasons.
First, most of the government runs and communicates via the public Internet. Yes, some highly-secure communications are completed over private, government-only networks, but they are few and far between.
Second - and ultimately more importantly - is business. Our commerce is now fully tied to the Internet. Even for a business that doesn't have an online sales site, the Internet is used to transmit credit card sales to a company's bank, or send sales data to a central accounting facility, or allow for security cameras to be monitored from afar. Hell, many business have converted from land-line telephones to VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones (think Vonage).
If the Internet is crippled, so is American business. That won't last for long, as even a despot needs cashflow from taxation...
So, if an Egyptian-style uprising were to occur here in the States, the Internet might be restricted, but it wouldn't be fully shut down. My guess is that they would use technology similar to what you use on your email "spam" filter to target and reject messages from specific email addresses, IP addresses or which contained "revolutionary" key words.
They'd restrict cell phone access by phones on some secret "watch list". They would probably shut down free, anonymous Internet access points, such as those offered at Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles and a gazillion other gathering spots.
Still, you could never restrict everything. Ask Mubarak in Egypt how well his Internet shut down worked. People Tweeted, Facebooked, texted, emailed and broadcast to get the information out. It wasn't easy - at first - but information got out. Once it got out, people with skills and knowledge made it easier for others to join these new, ad hoc networks, and it went nuts.
Accept The Challenge
As always, think PACE - Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. Have back-ups for your back-ups! Assume failure of at least one of your plans.
We've got a dozen or so posts on various communications ideas - from security to being clandestine - all accessible by clicking HERE.
If you think you have the slightest chance of having your email messages stopped, set up multiple, non-used email addresses on different ISPs. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail.
Tied to this is having a printed list of email addresses. Why? One of the ways the .GOV might identify which accounts to restrict would be by checking the online address books. Got any contacts in there that might catch the attention of some bureaucrat?
Illegal? Good luck with that while pleading your case to the FEDERAL judge hearing your case...
Pre-paid cell phones, which you keep charged, but are un-used. I have a number of friends that have this set up. Here's one drawback: You must keep the phone full of minutes. If you buy the phone, load some pre-paid minutes, then let them run out, you will lose your number. The next time you go to load a card, you will have another phone number!
Now, if your plan is to only use it initially for outgoing calls, that's no big deal. This also helps with your Operational Security, in that your number isn't listed in someone else's cellphone - most likely under your real name!
For family members, we have sets of walkie-talkies. Honestly, I don't know if these things will work as advertised. The ones I have purchased purport to work up to 35 miles. My guess is that this is the best-case when used in a flat, open area.
To test their utility, my wife is going on a field trip with her students in March to the Marin Headlands. It's a very hilly, uneven terrain area. She's going to bring one set and test them over the 3 days she'll be out there. I'll report the results.
Please click our advertiser links. They pay us so you don't have to. A click a day is all we ask!
Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates. www.BisonRMA.com