Friday, January 28, 2011

Change The World, One Cellphone At A Time

In Moscow, a would-be suicide bomber wore a cellphone-triggered bomb that received the wrong text.
The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds. 
Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else. 
She was at her Moscow safe house at the time getting ready with two accomplices, both of whom survived and were seen fleeing the scene. 
Islamist terrorists in Russia often use cheap unused mobile phones as detonators. The bomber's handler, who is usually watching their charge, sends the bomber a text message in order to set off his or her explosive belt at the moment when it is thought they can inflict maximum casualties. 
The phones are usually kept switched off until the very last minute but in this case, Russian security sources believe, the terrorists were careless.

Meanwhile, Egypt has shutdown all internet and cellphone communication to stifle protesters.
Internet and cell-phone services were disrupted across Egypt beginning Thursday night as authorities tried to prevent protesters from organizing mass rallies. Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the country’s leading pro-democracy advocates and his supporters were fired at by water cannons as they joined the protests. Police used batons to beat some of ElBaradei’s supporters, who tried to protect him. ElBaradei was trapped inside a mosque and eventually captured by police who put him under house arrest, according to Egyptian security officials. The Al-Jazeera TV network said at least one person was killed in the violence. The body of a protester was carried through the streets of the port city of Suez, although it was unclear when he died. "They have killed my brother," one of the demonstrators shouted. Protesters, ignoring the curfew, remained in the streets challenging the military to arrest them. online supporters from Anonymous have been faxing Wikileaks cables into Egypt instead.
Since Thursday night, Egypt has blocked its four largest Internet service providers, Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr. But landlines remain connected–and so, Anonymous believes, do landline-connected fax machines. “We stand up for the little guy as well as fighting the government,” one source within Anonymous writes to me. “We believe the people need to see the truth, which is why we’re faxing locations in Egypt (especially schools) with copies of a relevant WikiLeaks cable; due to the majority of Egyptian Internet being down, the public cannot access this vital information.”
On a crowdsourced document that the group uses for planning, members listed fax numbers of half a dozen Egyptian schools as their first targets. “The idea is to distribute the information to students, who can then share it with others,” says another source within Anonymous. “Right now they need to know that the police cannot be trusted and the wikileaks cables are just more proof of that.”

Soon enough, the future wave of smartphone-savvy activists may have a new app at their disposal...assuming the internet doesn't get shut down on them, too.

And in Kenya, millions are using their cellphones to spend and save money instead of physical cash and banks.
Like most people in Kibera, Outiri doesn't earn very much — just $4.37 a week. He would like to put that money in a bank, but he can't afford to.
"If I want to open up a bank account, it will cost me some charges, which I am unable to incur," he says.
So Outiri deposits his salary onto his cell phone with the help of an M-PESA agent in a kiosk in Kibera.
M-PESA is the first mobile money transfer system of its kind in Africa. "M" stands for "mobile," and "Pesa" means "money" in Kiswahili.
In recent months, M-PESA has encountered new competition from other mobile phone companies, but it still dominates the Kenyan market.
And it has expanded on the continent and beyond — to South Africa, Tanzania and even Fiji. 

In the very near future, just about anything that can be done with cellphone technology and a steady network will be done.


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