FireChat

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Firechat
FireChat logo.png
Developer(s)Open Garden
PlatformAndroid, iOS
Typemesh networking
LicenseProprietary
WebsiteOfficial website

FireChat is a proprietary mobile app, developed by Open Garden, which uses wireless mesh networking to enable smartphones to connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework without an internet connection by connecting peer-to-peer.[1]

Though it was not designed with the purpose in mind, FireChat has been used as a communication tool in some civil protests.

History[edit]

The app was first introduced in March 2014 for iPhones,[2] followed on April 3 by a version for Android devices.[3]

In July 2015, FireChat introduced private messaging. Until then, it had only been possible to post messages to public chatrooms.[4]

In May 2016, FireChat introduced FireChat Alerts to allow users to send push alerts during a specific time and place.[5] This feature was aimed for aid workers doing disaster relief and was developed from a partnership with Marikina a city in the Philippines.[6]

Usage[edit]

FireChat first became popular in 2014 in Iraq following government restrictions on internet use,[7][8] and thereafter during the Hong Kong protests.[9][10] In 2015, FireChat was also promoted by protesters during the 2015 Ecuadorian protests.[11] On September 11, 2015, during the pro-independence demonstration called Free Way to the Catalan Republic, FireChat was used 131,000 times.[12]

In January 2016, students protested at the University of Hyderabad, India, following the suicide of a PhD student named Rohith Vemula.[13] Some students were reported to have used Firechat after the university shut down its Wi-Fi.[14]

The current[when?] version (Oct 2018) seems to be a fork of riot.im, and has lost offline capabilities. Indications in the software show a future return to offline chat may be pending. This version requires Internet for registration by email.[citation needed]

Security[edit]

In June 2014, Firechat's developers told Wired that "[p]eople need to understand that this is not a tool to communicate anything that would put them in a harmful situation if it were to be discovered by somebody who's hostile ... It was not meant for secure or private communications."[15]

As of July 2015, FireChat claims to use end-to-end encryption to protect its one-to-one private messages.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milian, Mark. "Russians Are Organizing Against Putin Using FireChat Messaging App". Bloomberg. Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  2. ^ Simonite, Tom (28 March 2014). "FireChat Could Be the First in a Wave of Mesh Networking Apps". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  3. ^ Yu, Alan (7 April 2014). "How one app might be a step toward internet everywhere". NPR. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b "FireChat launches new offline private messaging option". BBC News. BBC. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  5. ^ Toor, Amar (19 May 2016). "This app lets rescue workers send offline alerts when disaster strikes". The Verge. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  6. ^ Stinson, Elizabeth (12 October 2015). "This App is Building a Giant Network for Free Messaging". Wired. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  7. ^ Kuchler, Hannah; Kerr, Simon (22 June 2014). "‘Private internet’ FireChat app grows in popularity in Iraq". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  8. ^ Hern, Alex. "Firechat updates as 40,000 Iraqis download 'mesh' chat app in censored Baghdad". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Faced with network surveillance, Hong Kong student demonstrators go P2P". Boingboing.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  10. ^ Bland, Archie (29 September 2014). "FireChat – the messaging app that's powering the Hong Kong protests". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Velazco, Alfredo. "The Internet, a Staging Post for Protests in Ecuador, is Under Threat". Global Voices Online. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  12. ^ Borràs, Enric (17 September 2015). "L'aplicació amb què et podies comunicar a la Via Lliure també et servirà en una catàstrofe". Ara. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Hyderabad university shut after protests over Dalit student's death". BBC News. BBC. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  14. ^ TNN (23 January 2016). "Firechat comes to UOH students' rescue". The Times of India. The Times Group. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  15. ^ Baraniuk, Chris (25 June 2014). "FireChat warns Iraqis that messaging app won't protect privacy". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 28 January 2016.

External links[edit]