Submissions/We need to talk about cell phones

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 5059
Title of the submission
We need to talk about cell phones
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
E-mail address
Contactable here
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
N/A (independent researcher)
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

As computers become the printing presses of the twenty-first century, … new major media will evolve from what are now but the toys of computer hackers… Speech will not be free if these are not also free. The danger is not of an electronic nightmare, but of human error.

Ithiel de Sola PoolTechnologies of Freedom: On free speech in an electronic age (1983, Belknap Press, Harvard University Press)

Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) projects are part of the free culture movement.[1][2] They are built with free software, free content licenses, and even - well, almost - free hardware (those who were there will recall that the Wikimania 2006 Hacking Days were hosted by OLPC).

Many users of WMF projects are also users of cellular network services; and are increasingly likely to access Wikimedia Foundation resources using cellular devices (mobile phones, tablets, 3G/4G dongles, etc).[3] Cellular networks have been portrayed as providers of liberation: freedom to access whatever, whenever, wherever.[4] Indeed, cellular technology is considered by some to be literally revolutionary, shaping contemporary political activism and playing a key role in recent revolts.[5]

On the surface, cellular technology would appear to be a natural fit for the free culture movement.

Below the surface, however, it is a different story. Current lawful cellular technology comprises proprietary hardware running proprietary firmware to mediate between protocols and platforms whose security defects are increasingly evident. As repressive regimes and commercial interests become ever more aware of the political and economic power of cellular devices, these defects are increasingly exploited, leaving users of cellular devices vulnerable to identity theft, surveillance, and physical threats.[6][7][8][9][10] These problems are parts of a wider picture: in the post-Snowden era, public connectivity appears to negatively correlate with public confidence in freedom of expression.[11]

If we are all to be able to access and edit Wikipedia and other WMF resources safely and confidently, how can we work around or overcome the inherent deficiencies in current cellular technology?

This presentation will briefly cover the history of GSM/GPRS networks and their successors, describe some of the causes of current vulnerabilities inherent in handsets and protocols, and highlight possible responses.

  4. See section "Mobilisation".
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
20 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
I intend to attend the hackathon regardless of whether my submission is accepted
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
Only available 6 August

Interested attendees

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  1. Jodi.a.schneider (talk) 20:01, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Hotzeplotz (talk) 14:49, 8 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Add your username here.