In Case of Disconnection: Preparing Gaza for an Internet Shutdown

For days, rumors have abounded that Israel—which controls the telecommunications infrastructure of Palestine—plans to shut down the Internet in Gaza.  While thus far the rumors have proven false, various organizations and actors are working to ensure that Gazans are prepared.

Telecomix, a group notable for its assistance to Egyptians during the January 2011 Internet shutdown, has put forward a guide entitled “Telecomix #Gaza Emergency Room,” offering up tips for staying connected in the wake of an Internet shutdown.  The guide includes tips on using an Egyptian SIM card, tweeting from one's mobile device, and accessing dialup connections.

Anonymous has also put together a comprehensive guide to keeping the lines of communication open in the event of a shutdown.  Their package of tips includes the following:

FIND THE PRIVATELY RUN ISPs: In densely populated areas, especially in central business districts and city suburbs there are multiple home WiFi networks overlapping each other, some secure, some not. If there is no internet, open up your WiFi by removing password protection: If enough people do this it’s feasible to create a totally private WiFi service outside government control covering the CBD, and you can use applications that run Bonjour (iChat on Mac for example) to communicate with others on the open network and send and receive documents. **needs more clarification If you are a private ISP, it’s your time to shine. Consider allowing open access to your Wi-Fi routers to facilitate communication of people around you until the grid is back online.

Another package circulating was created by “the dod” and contains advice on using Tor, Tails, and PGP and is open for additional suggestions.

On the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deeplinks blog, Eva Galperin provides analysis on the ongoing social media “battle” and offers the following reminder:

It is important to remember that dial-up connections are not secure. Your communications can be intercepted or spied upon. EFF recommends that you encrypt your browser traffic using HTTPS Everywhere.

There are also numerous guides available in Arabic.  A blog entitled Resistance Tools for Gaza offers links to both a first aid guide and a guide to tech tools.

Nadim Kobeissi, the creator of CryptoCat, has been tweeting suggestions and offers of assistance.  In one tweet, he cites a guide from Movements.org, suggesting it be translated into Arabic:

PRIORITY to get this into #Gaza, needs to be translated to Arabic:http://www.movements.org/how-to/entry/how-to-prepare-for-an-internet-connection-cut-off/ …

The guide, written by Susannah Vila, offers tips like:

Take all your contacts out of the cloud. It's a good idea to make sure you have a list of your contacts’ emails printed out and readily available. For example, the We Are All Khaled Said Facebook page prepared for a possible Facebook cut-off in Egypt by asking supporters to share their email addresses and other contact information on a Google spreadsheet.

Kobeissi also created a tutorial for using OTR (off-the-record chatting) with Pidgin, a commonly-used chat client for PCs:

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  • [...] Israel and Gaza Ceasefire 21 Nov – Bus Explodes in Central Tel Aviv Hours Before Ceasefire 20 Nov – In Case of Disconnection: Preparing Gaza for an Internet Shutdown 20 Nov – Is a Hamas/Israel Ceasefire on the Table? 18 Nov – In Gaza, Children are Paying the Price [...]

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