In the midst of the insistent attacks to which journalists in Belarus are subjected, the media (MDC) of this country are in the search of experimenting with new alternatives that allow them to continue bringing information to citizens.
Recently, the State announced that they would cancel access to foreign journalists. While, in parallel, they blocked access to information from local channels, including also suspending the Internet for three days. All in the midst of the protests generated by the August 8 elections.
It is for this reason that some MDCs in Belarus are reinventing how to deal with this situation. To do this, they are using NewNode, a decentralized file-sharing service from California-based startup Clostra. Which basically runs on the same principle as torrents.
What allows them, that their mobile applications are resistant. This means that users store chunks of content on their devices and share them with others on a peer-to-peer basis.
How can NewNode help in MDCs in Belarus?
The principle behind NewNode is that: If one user cannot access a website, but another can, they can connect with each other and exchange available data like torrent clients do. But it won’t help if there is a total internet shutdown or the entire mobile network is down.
This makes the technology applicable in places like Belarus, whose internet shutdown was not absolute. Even the most severe Internet outages were not the result of “disconnection” of Internet connections. If not more of a bottleneck created by the intense filtering of traffic by the government.
NewNode is in its infancy now, and the company does not disclose the number of its users worldwide. But when more than 800,000 new users in Belarus joined in a month after the elections, it was a notable upturn for the company. Before the elections, Clostra had only 10 NewNode users in Belarus. Now Belarus is NewNode’s largest user base.
Today, networks allow people more connection if they work together. But, key nodes can become vulnerabilities when they are needed most, leaving users with a poor network connection or a complete lack of Internet access.
From distributed classrooms and electronic payments, to highly censored or degraded environments. Clostra’s device-to-device content distribution system ensures that you can stay securely connected, even when centralized networks are not available. With NewNode, you can create your network and take it with you.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities must immediately stop their attacks on journalists. This has been stated by Amnesty International among reports indicating that journalists are being detained, beaten and shot with rubber bullets who report on the cruel police repression of the protests. In addition, media professionals have had their cameras vandalized and their recordings destroyed.
“The journalists in Belarus are doing a heroic job. To make the world aware of the brutal repression of protests by the authorities. It is terrifying to see how far the government is willing to go to suppress this information: attacking journalists with batons and rubber bullets, destroying their equipment and jailing dozens of journalism professionals, ”said Marie Struthers, Director of Amnesty International for Europe Eastern and Central Asia.
“Journalists are being targeted for revealing the crimes committed by the Belarusian authorities against their own population, in what constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression. The government has even disabled the Internet to prevent people from sharing information. As unprecedented numbers of people continue to take to the streets in Belarus, it is critical that press freedom is protected and that no one is harmed simply for doing their job, “Struthers said.