“The idea was the video data can come from mobile phone users themselves instead of via servers,” Raul Jimenez, researcher at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), told The Local about the new Tribler Mobile concept.
“So for example, with YouTube the videos are on a server controlled by Google.”
That can pose problems when commercial companies feel forced to compromise freedom of speech in order to enter and operate in new markets.
“The infrastructure belongs to a company, then the company can decide what is appropriate,” Jimenez said.
“That is not what we are used to in democracies, we are used to the public square where you are free to say whatever you want because freedom of speech laws protect you,” Jimenez said.
The app is free and has already been put into use. It was developed alongside Delft University of Technology and Inria.
But apart from helping to avoid censorship, the new peer-to-peer technology can also be put into use where there is no access to the internet at all, which happened in Egypt in 2011 and is currently happening in Syria.
Using Near Field Communication (NFC), mobile phone users can simply transfer video files using Bluetooth technology. It allows the video to be spread from user to user until someone has a chance to upload it for the rest of the world to see.
But Jimenez recommends using encryption technology, as the new app does not protect users from being monitored by the security services or other actors.
“It is true that if you want to use these tools in a country which a totalitarian regime you need a bit more security, and that’s what we are working on for the future,” he told The Local.