With internet shutdowns becoming increasingly commonplace in India, Offline messaging options that will keep you connected when there is no network access.
List of apps and tools that can help you communicate with your near and dear ones even during an internet suspension.
1. Fire Chat
Protesters in Hong Kong also used this peer-to-peer app, created by Open Garden, to communicate and spread information. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to transmit data. Available on Android and iOS.
Pros: Secure communication across the mesh network, with a range of 60 m for Android users and 100 m for iOS.
Cons: Using both Bluetooth and WiFi Direct can drain phone batteries sooner.
2. Signal Offline Messenger
Developed by Bengaluru-based Khokho Developer, this app also uses WiFi Direct to connect to other users, or send a message instantaneously to the entire group. Available only on Android.
Pros: No limit on photos and other media that can be shared.
Cons: Being on the open network, privacy is not always guaranteed.
The messaging app was “designed for activists, journalists, and anyone else who needs a safe, easy and robust wayto communicate” according to their website. Available only on Android.
Pros: It can sync via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when there is no connectivity, and if the internet is up, will sync via the Tor network (which is also used for the Dark Web) to guard against surveillance.
Cons: Several users report difficulty in adding contacts, can send only text, no provision to share images/video
Send texts, images and even voice notes across a peer-to-peer mesh network, and doesn’t need data or voice connection to transmit messages.
Pros: Users can stay anonymous.
Cons: Available only on iOS and costs ₹599
5. Two Way
A simple interface walkie-talkie app that will keep you connected over short distances, much like the traditional device.
Pros: Works with slow internet connections - even down to 2G.Cross-platform connectivity available with iOS and Android capabilities.
Cons: Interactions are public to anyone who lands on the same channel as you.
Bridgefy shot to limelight earlier in 2019 when anti-government protesters in Hong Kong started using the app to bypass internet blockades in China. The Bluetooth-based messaging app allows users (within a city) to communicate sans the internet.
It has three operational modes.
a) Person-to-person, which lets you chat privately with another user located within 100 metres (or 330 feet) of you
b) Mesh network, which lets you connect with users located further by communicating with Bridgefy users in the middle, thereby forming a human chain
c) Broadcast mode, which allows you to send out messages to every Bridgefy user around you at the same time, even if they are not in your contact list
Internet shutdowns have become ubiquitous lately. In some cases, they are short blockades of 24 to 48 hours, while in others, bans can extend over several months.
Global portal Internet Shutdown Tracker recently found that India led the world in 2019 when it came to blocking its citizens’ internet access – either partially or completely. In 2019, the Indian government suspended internet 95 times, with the most recent ban imposed across several states after the breakout of protests against the newly passed citizenship law. But, 2019 is hardly an aberration.
Last year, India accounted for over 67 percent of global internet shutdowns, according to a report by Access Now (an internet advocacy group). In fact, between 2012 and 2019, India has suspended the internet 367 times.
While governments are allowed to shut down the internet under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, it poses multiple communication challenges for India’s 1.4 billion people.
An internet shutdown was imposed on 4th August 2019, when Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated by the Parliament of India. There was a Presidential order 272 dated 5th August 2019 implying the same. The State of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. There was a preventive shutdown imposed in the state which is yet to be lifted, the beginning of the communication blockade saw landlines as well as Mobile services restricted, the ban on landlines was lifted but suspension of mobile internet continues in the valley.
Longest Internet Shutdown was observed in Kashmir located in state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2016 due to the agitation caused by the killing of Burhan Wani on 8th July 2016. Mobile Internet Services were suspended for 133 days. While mobile Internet services on postpaid numbers was restored on November 19, 2016. Mobile Internet services for prepaid users were resumed in January 2017, this implies they faced almost a six month Internet shutdown.
Third longest Internet services suspension was observed in Darjeeling. The order suspending the Internet services was promulgated on 18th June 2017 due to the ongoing agitation for a separate Gorkhaland. Two days later, on 20thJune, the order was extended to the broadband services as well, effectively shutting down the entire Internet, with several such extension orders Internet services were suspended in Darjeeling for 100 days.
Source: The Hindu
Cover image: HT