The ‘hacktivists’ of Telecomix lend a hand to the Arab Spring

December 6, 2011

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Categories: Old News

Source: The Washington Post

On a rainy November morning in Northern Virginia, at a cafe where elderly women are meeting for pastries, Andrew Lewis is hacking into one of the most tightly controlled police states in the Middle East.

“The more you know, the more you can help,” he murmurs, as his scan of Syria’s cyberspace throws up lists of servers.

His 6-foot-6-inch frame hunched over his laptop, Lewis skims the codes at lightning speed and clicks on one of the servers that process and direct Syrian Internet traffic — but then he is asked for a password. He guesses it correctly on his second attempt.

Lewis, 22, is a member of Telecomix, an unconventional Western computer club that helps activists across the Middle East. During this year’s Arab Spring, pro-democracy protesters have used Facebook to promote rallies and Skype to avoid tapped cellphones, but their governments have in turn boosted online censorship and spying. Telecomix has tried to step in and provide the activists with tech support.

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