Hello? Democracys calling!
Recently I had a pretty interesting Facebook-Chat with Valentin Eisendle about the possibilities of a democratic telecommunication-system. Rumor has it apple is going to include RFID-chips in future versions of the popular iPhone. While Leander Kahney over at Cult of Mac seems to be extremely thrilled about this, it really is a reason for major concern. It’s not just that RFID is extremely unsafe (see here, here, or here), it also raises serious privacy concerns, e.g.: Every single move can be tracked even with GPS and network turned of. And with RFID becoming your main ID, it being hacked could give a hacker access to your wallet, your health details and everything else you want to keep safe from the world.
Something like that could not happen with hardware like openmokos Neo 1973, a completely open sourced mobile phone. This way it would also be possible to develop and deploy a democratic telecommunication-system.
What do we mean by democratic telecommunication?
Basically there are two versions of the idea: One being softcore, one being democratic by design. Let’s start with the softcore-version: With enough open SIP-Servers (SIP being the most popular VoIP-protocol) like egika.net, it would be possible to make free calls with only public WLAN and Google Voice. Of course this would only work with enough public internet around you. So you can see how this is only a dirty hack.
Real democratic telephoning would include a decentralized communication form. Something TerraNet allready experimented with in 2007. Basically what this means is that every phone is directly connected to nearby phones thus forming a meshed net. Phone calls are routed over this net, from phone to phone.
Even though this is technically possible there still are many thinks one has to think about! For example how can you secure calls so that middle-notes cannot listen in on conversations? Or how about scalability? While the technical questions are rather easily solved (see zfone for security and the amount of private TOR nodes), the real challenge is the socialsystemic component. Or in other words: how do you sell this to the broad masses?
Update: This seems to be an interesting link: P2PSIP