Brian Merchant, writing for Vice, on the text message Ukrainians in an area of a protest received:
“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation. In fact, it’s downright Orwellian (and I hate that adjective, and only use it when absolutely necessary, I swear).
But that’s what this is: it’s technology employed to detect noncompliance, to hone in on dissent. The NYTimes reports that the “Ukrainian government used telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cell phones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters early on Tuesday.” Near. Using a cell phone near a clash lands you on the regime’s hit list.
This is crazy. Having been to Ukraine and staying there and seeing their wonderful country for weeks and weeks, and having met so man wonderful people, this hurts. The government there has always, my friends there tell me, been the same mafia-types that ruled the place before the USSR fell. Little surprise that the government has been scathed in scandals this last while. But the Ukrainian People are brilliant, wonderful, and more and more modern and world-inclusive every year. It’s sad they must now stand and risk peril against corruption and insanely tyrannical laws.
God’s Peace, Justice, and Love to you,