Note — Oct 27, 2019

Catalonia Has Created a New Kind of Online Activism

With protests across the world multiplying, we are seeing various forms of technical and cultural innovations happening. I wish I could spend more time paying attention to what’s going on, why, and how. This one is quite interesting in Catalonia with an intriguing platform gaining hundreds of thousands of users, and the theories suggesting that some actual political parties might be behind it.

To ensure the app remains in the hands of genuine protestors, rather than police or other infiltrators, users can only access it through a QR code from someone who is already a member of the network. Each person who joins receives ten QR codes to invite others. […]

This means people can be organised in geographical “cells”, and protestors can only see actions taking place within a certain radius – preventing information from sloshing out across the network, and limiting what an infiltrator would be able to find out. […]

“This means that, even if the contents are encrypted, ISPs could potentially build a relationship map of nodes participating in this kind of [friend-to-friend] network.” It’s for this reason that other protest movements, such as the one in Hong Kong, rely on Bluetooth, thus avoiding and ISP’s network. […]

As well as entering your location, you are also asked to enter the times when you’re available to protest. “It’s like a clandestine army that you can invoke whenever and for whatever reason you want – you can decide to block one, two, three or 100 roads,” says Luján.