The Internet and Democratic Change

The broadcast of Nightwaves on Radio3 last night, 29 June, (still available on Listen Again) discussed the use of Internet-based services as tools of popular protest and to foment political change. Twitter, inevitably, was cited, in the context of the current mass-catharsis against the Khomenists in Iran.

The whild and whacky whorld of the Internet has been agog at the use of Twitter to circumvent the cyberweb patrols of Iranian state-security, and plan opposition rallies: so much so that furniture store Habitat attempted to use popular interest in Twitter to piggyback its own advertizements.

Until now, Twitter has mostly been to inform the reader of what colour socks the operator is wearing (I am not wearing any today), or which china teapot Stephen Fry has bought or that Philip Pullman has, by the looks of it, been reading the Wiki entry for HDM for the past three months. What is happened in Iran is brilliant, but I cannot it being due to any inate aspect of Twitter (even if China and Vietnam and Guatemala take dim views on its use as political protest).

The level of technology held by the Iranian security services is unlikely to be highly advanced, even with the latest Siemens or Nokia equipment. The secret police just have not noticed it… or have they?

One point made on Nightwaves was that honey-traps may well have been laid, in anticipation of the ratification of the 12 June election results in Iran by the judiaciary (which has now happened). With the Khomenists now confident in their position, previously unmolested Internet users may soon find themselves nabbed. Not a pleasant thought, not least as I have previously said a companion on a group-blogging effort who has been caught up in this.

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