These Mobile Apps Let You Communicate During Internet Shutdowns
India tops the world in the number of internet shutdowns, with over 100 reported incidents in 2018 alone, according to a report by Freedom House, a US-based non-profit organisation.
With the ongoing protest regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), various places in India witnessed internet shut down, cellular calls and SMS services suspension. The telecom operators reported that the government instructed them to shut down services to maintain law and order situation. The Indian laws give power to the government to direct telecom companies to shut down services.
However, the suspension of these services can create a communication gap and cause a lot of trouble. Some mobile applications are allowing users to exchange messages in the absence of internet and call services - thus, preventing a communication blackout. But it is important to note that while they are immensely helpful, they have their limitations. These mobile apps help to deliver a message to a person/people present within a certain distance from the sender and cannot replace internet services which can deliver messages across continents in a fraction of a second. Check out our list of the messaging apps you can download from Google Playstore to be prepared for internet shutdowns.
Briar is an offline messaging app that does not rely on a central server and syncs via Bluetooth or WiFi connection. If there is access to internet connection, Briar can sync via the Tor network and uses direct encrypted connections between users protecting them from surveillance.
Bridgefy app works in three ways. They are person to person mode, mesh mode and broadcast mode. The person to person mode allows its users to have a private chat, however the two parties should be at a distance not more than 330 feet or 100 metres of each other. The mesh mode allows users to send messages to a person who is beyond the range of 330 feet if there are other Bridgefy users in middle of them. It creates a chain of network between Bridgefy users and help in delivering a message to a person who is at a distance. The messages in this process are safe and cannot be read by people in the chain. The broadcast mode allows to send messages to every Bridgefy user around you at the same time, even if you don’t have them on your contacts list.
FireChat operates by creating a mesh network using Bluetooth and peer-to-peer WiFi. It transmits messages and pictures offline between devices that are located within 200 feet of one another. You need to turn on Bluetooth and WiFi need to send and receive messages when not connected to a network (even when you don’t have access to wifi). Your FireChat will also work in the presence of a cellular network or WiFi access point.
Signal Offline Messenger
Signal enables you to send audio, text, photo and video messages to users around you in range of up to 100 meters over wifi direct. Signal Offline allows both one-on-one and group messaging. Signal lets users transfer heavy files without the need to resize them. Signal Offline is only available on android phones.