NGO Network Develops Online Game to Help People Bypass Internet Shutdown

0
157
Ms Roxana Bassi, Technical Team Coordinator at APC

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), a membership-based international network of organisations and activists with its main office in Johannesburg, South Africa, has developed a facilitated training activity in the form of a game to give people a better understanding of internet infrastructure, the procedures for shutting down the internet and the tools currently available for circumventing such internet shutdowns.

The two-hour game was launched at SplinterCon on December 7, 2023 and is now available at its own mini-site: https://shutdowngame.apc.org, which offers the shutdown game for download and use by anyone.

Ms Roxana Bassi, a telecommunications engineer, who serves as Technical Team Coordinator for the APC, said “The game was inspired by the #keepiton campaign, and consist of instructions for a human-facilitated game, with the aim of helping to organise an engaging and informative training activity that sheds light on the various methods of internet shutdowns and ways to counteract them.”

The #KeepItOn campaign is run by a coalition of over 300 organizations from 105 countries around the world fighting to end internet shutdowns worldwide.

The game, which can be played online or downloaded and played in person, was developed by the APC Technical Team under a Creative Commons license in order to grant the public permission to use the game under copyright law and, as a result, anyone can adopt and adapt the game for their needs.

The game comes with a kit which provides detailed instructions for game facilitators and suggested game dynamics, as well as a map and cards to play as an in-person game and also in an online environment.

The game starts with a simplified map of a generic country’s internet infrastructure, which serves as a shared visual reference to aid the players’ understanding of fundamental connectivity concepts.

Mr. Gaurav Jain, APC’s Lead Editor, states that “The map helps in reviewing the components of a national internet infrastructure, and so participants can gain insights into how various types of shutdowns are technically executed.”

The game proceeds to an exercise that makes everyone visualise the internet’s data paths, including a Domain Name System (DNS) resolution, after which it gets into circumvention ideas and strategies tailored to different shutdown scenarios, including curfews, content blocking, closure of international gateways, traffic blocking, DNS filtering, prohibiting of virtual private networks (VPNs), mobile network jamming, and more.

Mr. Jain explained that “This part of the game includes exploring strategies to protect yourself from potential government retaliation, thus providing holistic skills and knowledge needed to navigate and mitigate the impact of shutdowns.”

According to him, “We believe that digital activists must strive to safeguard internet freedom and protect human rights online by equipping themselves with technical knowledge and tactics to circumvent this increasing trend of digital darkness. We look forward to building a community around this game and their building on this effort to fight against all types of digital darkness.”