‘Occupy’ protestors find allies in app makers
OAKLAND, California — US street protestors have won allies in software makers who have crafted programs that let smartphones fire off word of imminent arrest or let rallying cries be heard by crowds.
A free “I’m Being Arrested” application was available on Thursday at the online Android Market stocked with programs for smartphones powered by the Google-backed software.
“Alert your lawyer, loved ones, etc. that you are being arrested with a click,” said a description of the mini-program for activists taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests which have spread to other US cities.
The Arrested application lets users make lists of people to be notified with text messages in event of impending incarceration, and then fires off a batch of missives with the press of a target-shaped on-screen icon.
A movements.org website on Thursday had posted instructions for getting, installing and using the application, including recommending people chock messages with details about who is demonstrating and where.
Feedback at the Android Market included urging the application be modified to include location information automatically by tapping into satellite positioning capabilities of smartphones.
“The people have had enough,” one reviewer wrote in a chat forum at the Android Market.
“Monster.com makes an app to help you look for a job,” countered another reviewer. “How about downloading that one instead!”
The Arrested application was available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, and Catalan.
Protestors have also tapped into Vibe software that lets people using Apple or Android smartphones anonymously exchange short text messages that can be set to automatically delete a short time later.
The thinking is that vanished messages can’t be seen by authorities that may get hold of activists’ smartphones.
A Shouty app for Android devices lets protestors broadcast speeches to other smartphones in crowds, avoiding police bans on loudspeakers or megaphones.
Applications for Android can be unleashed faster because they don’t undergo the strict vetting process Apple uses to evaluate smartphone programs.
Software savants have taken to brainstorming on Occupy-friendly smartphone applications during “hackathons,” with projects including software tracking reports of police brutality and tutorials for activists.