Friday, 24 August 2018

I read the news today, oh boy...

You'd think they'd be headlines.

Russia shuts down Telegram

Cameroon blocks the internet from English speaking population

India cuts access to the internet for 177th time in five years


But they aren't. Oh sure, sometimes a major world newspaper like the New York Times mentions them. But are they discussed by the shouting heads on Western cable news channels? The American CNN seems to talk of nothing but the tweets of their president. The BBC is not much better about its own political Yoricks. In many African countries, they aren't allowed to talk about these things at all, and in others, the political soap operas dominate the conversation.

Yet, the entire world is facing a sort of existential crisis when it comes to the very freedoms we all agreed human beings should have when we joined the United Nations. Granted, the internet was not invented when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed, but then again, most people in the world did not even have televisions and we seemed to figure out that television was a part of free speech and such. We use the term "internet shutdown," but that is a generic term that encompasses many actions. A shutdown can range from blocking a single website or app to creating an alternate country- or region-wide intranet to cutting off access to the entire internet. We should add to that the issue of net neutrality, a sort of "evolved" version of an internet shutdown that makes it seem like it's all in the name of "business" or "jobs" but it's really just another means to control information and political power. It's all the more dangerous when telecommunications are controlled by only a few corporations with a large dollar stake in who is in power in a government.

Let's be real. An internet shutdown is censorship, no matter what form it takes.

And here we are, a small company from Africa, shouting into the darkness, with little name recognition and limited resources to do something about it compared to the Microsofts and Googles of the world. We do what we can.

The large, well-funded American organizations who fight for causes like ours have recently been busy with their own declining internet freedoms and creeping authoritarianism. They are getting a taste of the poison we have been dealing with in large doses since the internet started to spread in the
"developing countries." The EU countries are trying to figure out just what GDPR is and if it goes too far or not far enough in privacy protection. Those Western countries we looked to as ideals for freedom of speech and press are fighting the same authoritarian impulses that Africans have known since before they were born.

What has the internet done to us all?

 Do you ever wonder if people ran around at the time of Gutenberg acting all crazy like this?

So what we are doing here is providing some tools to fight censorship and trying to call attention to the missing headlines. These tools are open to the whole world, but we focus our attention on countries where oppression is severe and where people may not be able to afford a VPN subscription. When we're blocked by a country, we find solutions to make it work for the people there.  We have millions of users across the globe, but especially in regions like the Middle East and Africa where censorship is normal.

Why not try us out? Download SumRando VPN, Messenger, and STASH at https://www.sumrando.com.


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