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Designing Networks for Large-Scale Blackout Circumvention

Authors:
Hasan, Shaddi
Technical Report Identifier: EECS-2013-230
2013-12-19
EECS-2013-230.pdf

Abstract: Large-scale communications blackouts, such as those carried out by Egypt and Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012 and 2013, have motivated a series of projects that aim to enable citizens to communicate even in the face of such heavy-handed censorship efforts. A common theme across these proposals has been the use of wireless mesh networks. We argue that such networks are poorly equipped to serve as a meaningful countermeasure against large-scale blackouts due to their intrinsically poor scaling properties. We further argue that projects in this space must consider safety of both users and network operators as a first-order design priority. From these two insights, we frame a definition of dissent networks to capture the essential requirements for blackout circumvention solutions.