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An Unusual Arsenal: Tech Tools to Topple a Tyrant

#sxsw #overthrow

Instead of guns and knives, the revolutionaries who descended upon Tahrir Square on Feb. 1 packed a potent arsenal of technological tools that ended the corrupt, 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak. Their weapons of choice: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – everyday tools that can be used to plan a party or plot a revolution.

“We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world,” wrote one protester in a particularly succinct tweet.

But with one third of the world living under Internet censorship, the tools we take for granted in America are precious commodities elsewhere. When Mubarak’s government hit the kill switch, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – and those using these tools to rally – were rendered powerless. When the Internet goes black, as it did Jan. 27, how do revolutionaries access these invaluable social channels to communicate, mobilize and ultimately overthrow an unjust government? How do citizens in radio silence tune into the rest of the world – without incurring the wrath of their government? What are the tools behind the tools that every revolutionary should include in his tool kit? And why should you care?



Aasil Ahmad Co-Founder Votifi

Aasil Ahmad is a Fellow with Access, a global movement for digital freedom. Access uses cutting edge technologies to help people living behind the firewall, provides thought leadership on the new frontier of digital rights and mobilizes a global citizens’ movement in over 100 countries that advocates for internet freedom.

Aasil is also co-founder and COO of, a mobile polling and analytics company that facilitates political exploration and peer-to-peer connections across political and social boundaries. Aasil’s expertise is in the intersection of technology and politics. He spent five years executing mobile and internet strategies to overcome media censorship and bias in undemocratic, authoritarian environments, particularly in Southeast Asia. At the time he was also co-founder of ElectionMall Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s first dedicated provider of software services for campaigns and elections. Aasil was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco. He is an avid photographer and speaks Arabic, French, Italian and Urdu.

David Gorodyansky CEO & Co-Founder AnchorFree

David Gorodyansky leads the execution of all business operations at AnchorFree, makers of the world's most popular free online privacy and security tool, Hotspot Shield. Previously, David founded Intelligent Buying Inc., a profitable asset management company and reseller of IT enterprise networking equipment. Prior to that, David launched a B2B Web service in the field of Competitive Intelligence, which in turn, gave rise to the spin-off of a large network of IT Service Management portals. David's earlier work experience has included several years of wireless research, planning, and enterprise strategy at Remedy Corporation, Fulcrum Management, and work with analyst companies such as Gartner Group, IDC, and Meta Group. David is a member of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals and an advisor on the Technology Expert Council to Edwin Lee, the Mayor of San Francisco.

Jamal Dajani VP for Middle East & North Africa Internews Network

Jamal Dajani is the VP for the MENA region for Internews. Jamal witnessed the launch of the Arab Spring from its birthplace in Tunisia in January 2011, and has evaluated the impact of media on transitional countries during and post revolutions from within Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.
A winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media for Link TV’s Mosaic: World News from the Middle East, Jamal has extensively covered the MENA region for several years producing more than 2,000 news episodes. He worked as a consultant for PBS Frontline/World where he published the Arab Media Revolution.
Dajani is a frequent guest on several national and international media broadcast networks and has published numerous articles on the Middle East in many print and electronic media outlets. He blogs regularly on The Huffington Post.

Neal Ungerleider Reporter Fast Company

Reporter for Fast Company specializing in international innovation, future tech, defense, cybersecurity, gov2.0... Everything you'll hear about on NPR next year. Proud American loudmouth and coffee drinker supreme.

Sonja Gittens-Ottley Mgr, Business & Human Rights Program Yahoo!

Sonja Gittens-Ottley is the Manager, Yahoo!’s Business & Human Rights Program, executing Yahoo!’s initiatives to promote privacy and free expression on the Internet. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Sonja worked as an attorney at the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (the country’s supervisory and regulatory financial authority, responsible for the implementation of the country’s monetary policy), where she focused on banking, financial compliance, and corporate governance issues. She has also worked with the Ministry of Legal Affairs & Office of the Attorney-General of Trinidad and Tobago, the Department of State responsible for the provision of legal advice on all local and international matters. In that capacity, she developed and implemented comparative legal research programs and served as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Human Rights Consultative Committee for the development of periodic reports for submission to the United Nations.

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