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Through Drones, Military Can Force Internet Back On Oppressive Regimes

commando solo
Somewhere between the comforting notion that liberty is protected and the terrifying fact that information technology operates entirely out of our hands lies this interesting little factoid: The U.S. has the capability to reconnect the Internet in foreign countries. When the switch goes off in countries like Egypt, the United States military can remotely trigger satellites or send planes that will suddenly reconnect a locked down area. Professor John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School, who spoke with Wired, cannot say exactly how it is done; but he gives the example of Commando Solo -- a plane meant to enable communications or beam out AM/FM transmissions -- and drones with small cellular towers affixed to their bellies that shoot out 3G to the ground below.

With the ability to restore communication, Commando Solo is also equipped to deny wireless and jam signals. Arquilla tells Wired, "Jamming is something we think about in the context of shooting wars," says Arquilla, but "it may have its place in social revolutions as well." This type of warfare via telecom is Arquilla's specialty, as his career has been spent encouraging military-led DDoS and online attacks to disrupt adversarial forces. The point, says Wired, is what the military can black out, it can also fill again.

Of course, the idea of flying a U.S.-led "free communications" plane over the skies of Cairo is highly problematic. First of all, drones with cellular pods on their under-carriage are easily shot out of the sky, and on the ground, devices need to be present to receive the signal. (But Wired points out that small, portable netbooks would do the trick, and smuggling in satellite dishes might also work.) But the biggest obstacle is the fact that "forced entry," even online, is an act of war. It certainly isn't the same as blanket-bombing or sending in troops, but it's similar to issuing sanctions or denouncing a regime. The problem, Arquilla says, is not the technical ability to restore networks, but the political backlash of government relations of when networks are forcibly resurrected.

Tags: commando solo, CommandoSolo, cyber warfare, CyberWarfare, drones, egypt, internet blockade, InternetBlockade, military, MilitaryTechnology, politics, top