Internet in a suitcase creates stealthy networks for protesters

The Internet has proven to be a very powerful tool for government protesters, but it's very dependent on infrastructure, making it all too easy for an irate regime to shut it off. This suitcase, and the concept behind it, has been funded by the U.S. State Department as a way to keep people online no matter what happens.

While the equipment in this suitcase is capable of deploying a wireless network that allows computers and cellphones to talk to each other, there's a bunch of important software doing equally hard work behind the scenes. The network isn't centralized like your wireless router. Rather, it's a mesh network, meaning that if individual nodes are confiscated by burly dudes in black coats, the rest of the network can still function. And included services help to keep everything anonymous and protected so that your laptop or cellphone doesn't get tracked down in the first place.

Of course, the effectiveness of a system like this depends on two things: the ability to actually get it into the hands of people who need it in quantities meaningful enough for it to make a difference, along with (ideally) the existence of a connection to the outside world, either across a border or through a satellite connection or something. Happily for protesters everywhere, Uncle Sam (in the persona of Hillary Clinton) has kicked in $25 million to make this happen where it needs to.

NYT, via Engadget

For the latest tech stories, follow us on Twitter at @dvice