Despite almost a million people being involved in mass protests in Kiev against the Ukrainian government’s shift away from the EU, and towards Putin’s increasingly draconian Russia, the increasingly desperate situation is receiving little coverage from the global media.
Well on Tuesday, in a move clearly designed to scare the peaceful moderate majority of protesters, thousands of people received what is perhaps the most chilling text message ever sent by a government,
‘Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.’
The New York Times notes that the phrasing used in the message, ‘mass disturbance’ explicitly echoes language used in a new law which took effect on the same day (Tuesday), criminalising participation in a protest deemed to be violent.
If the message itself is scary, so is the way in which the government used mobile phone geo-location data to identify targets. The three mobile phone carriers in the Ukraine, Kyivstar, MTS and Life, have denied any involvement in the matter, so how this information was obtained, or the texts sent, remains a mystery, although Kyvastar has suggested that the government might have set up a ‘pirate’ phone tower in the area.
It should be also noted that just because a person is the general area of the protests, this is not proof that they are involved in them.Regardless, the message seems to have had little effect, and the protests are turning increasingly deadly at the time of writing.
In future, protesters involved in similar actions against oppressive governments may be interested in the KILLYOURPHONE.COM project, which encourages people to set up public workshops showing how to evade mobile phone tracking by building cheap, signal blocking ‘Faraday‘ pouches.