In a lot of countries, the right to free speech isn't quite as sacrosanct as it is in the United States. In fact, just trying to send a text message from one point to another may go through several layers of government snoops trying to figure out if someone is trying to foment revolution or not. But for Jon Gosier and the Abayima – Luganda for "guardian" – organization, the ability to send a text without Big Brother checking up is priceless, and together, they want to see that right protected.
Gosier's work has led to some calling him "the savior of the SIM card,” and with good reason. Gosier's work focuses on the use of the SIM card, which is itself an overlooked and often ignored piece of hardware that allows a cell phone to connect to a network. Under Gosier's work, new software is being developed that will allow programmers to both control and write SIM cards, and with such a purpose in mind, take back little chunks of the network to allow text messages to be more readily passed without government intervention.
Reprogramming a SIM card isn't easy, and doing so requires at least something of an understanding in binary code based on reports. However, once it's been completely realized, the possibility of using a SIM card to talk directly to, say, a rogue cell phone tower established by emergency management agencies, becomes significantly greater, leaving watchdog groups in the dark. It would also give individuals the right to freely communicate just by swapping SIM cards. This is being recognized to such a degree that the Knight Foundation recently gave Abayima a $150,000 grant to develop the technology further.
Of course, some might think that this is a dangerous step; one person's freedom fighter, after all, is another's terrorist, so providing a secure yet indistinguishable way of sending information seems tailor made to the spread of terrorism. But by like token, such a move isn't being designed so much to participate in first world nations with advanced levels of technology so much as it is being geared toward developing nations like Uganda.
While it's a bit of a misnomer to suggest that SIM cards were ever really going out of style, the thought of finding new ways to use them is somewhat more novel than one might have expected. Free speech is a valuable idea that's downright sacred in the minds of Americans – and should be for all. Whether Gosier and Abayima can pull it off or not remains to be seen, but there's certainly little room to fault his aspirations in SIM technology.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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