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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • Kent Bush: HRF using 'Hackathon' to spread information

  • The HRF wants to get more information into the country than a single leaflet can provide
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  • Information is power.
    Every major business has a public relations department to help control how information about the company is released and to deal with controversies that arise.
    That is also why politicians have press conferences and grant interviews. They need to make sure their side of the story is told.
    That is in a free society with a free press. In order to run a totalitarian regime in a dictatorial government, you have to control the flow of information.
    You can’t keep subjects under control if they know that they live in abject poverty while leaders live in the lap of luxury.
    People are told about attackers from the outside and enemies of the state are well defined and exaggerated. In order to make sure people appreciate their lot in life, Westerners are portrayed as evil. Sometimes they are cannibals. Sometimes western society is described as being out of control with rampant violent crime.
    All of these ills are prevented by the dictator and his ruling class, according to state-run newspaper reports and television broadcasts.
    People are manipulated into being thankful for that protection.
    In the same sense, the best way to disrupt a despot is to get accurate information to those under his rule.
    That is one of the goals of an upcoming project of the Human Rights Foundation. The HRF uses many different tactics to highlight what dictators are doing across the globe and even try to bring information to repressed people.
    In addition to pointing out how celebrities sell-out to help dictators cover up human rights abuses, the HRF tries to infiltrate countries with accurate information.
    One of the upcoming events is Disrupt North Korea. Because only a few high-ranking officials are allowed internet access, the group decided to package a significant amount of information and sneak it into North Korea.
    Of course, anyone trying to do this in person risks arrest and imprisonment in a North Korean prison. That doesn’t sound like much fun.
    So there has to be another way. At the upcoming Hackathon in San Francisco, the group will put together a high-tech version of the pamphlet drop utilized during wars in the 20th century.
    Instead of a leaflet of information dropped from an airplane, some South Koreans have utilized hot air balloons to drop leaflets condemning actions of the North Korean government in the communist country.
    But the HRF wants to get more information into the country than a single leaflet can provide. Because of that, the HRF will download Wikipedia onto flash drives and use the same balloon drop method to distribute them.
    Obviously, the effectiveness of dropping flash drives to a vast population of people who live day-to-day and meal-to-meal is doubtful. None of them have internet access, but how many of them even have access to a computer to read the information – even if it is received after the balloon drop.
    Page 2 of 2 - But doing nothing isn’t working. The only hope is that the right person gets the right access to the right information and is able to do something to affect change in the country.
    I appreciate efforts like this because they are doing all they can in a seemingly impossible situation. It’s funny. Sometimes, when you try to do the impossible, you find out you can.
    Kent  Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com

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