Thursday, February 4, 2010

There's An App For That: Crossing the Border / Follow the GPS, Ése

FOLLOW THE GPS, ÉSE
THE TRANSBORDER IMMIGRANT TOOL HELPS MEXICANS CROSS OVER SAFELY

INTERVIEW BY ALEX DUNBAR

Over the past two decades, Ricardo Dominguez has been utilizing electronics and the internet to piss off just about every high-level administrative authority in the US. In the late 90s, his performance-art-cum-activist organization the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) set up a participatory website-jamming network called the FloodNet system, which allowed anyone with an internet connection to gum up the official sites of the US Border Patrol, White House, G8, Mexican embassy, and others, rendering them inaccessible. The Department of Justice retaliated with an electronic attack on the EDT that aimed to destabilize the group and interrupt their online meddling. As any conspiracy wonk can tell you, it’s illegal for the government to use military force against civilians without declaring martial law; that’s the job of cops and FBI agents.

Dominguez, a Zapatista sympathizer and close friend of Subcomandante Marcos, claims the various forms of online mischief conducted by the EDT were experiments in electronic civil disobedience rather than true acts of sabotage. Their work led to massive virtual and physical sit-ins protesting the Mexican government between ’98 and ’99, attracting more than 100,000 participants. But his current project—the Transborder Immigrant Tool—is poised to enrage a much broader spectrum of the North American populace. By augmenting a low-cost Motorola phone with GPS and a battery of applications, Dominguez’s goal is to help illegal immigrants complete safe border crossings without being sent back by the Border Patrol or getting shot in the face by American “patriots.”

The primary goal of the Transborder Immigrant Tool is to increase safety during border crossing by directing heavy-footed immigrants to safe routes, shelter, food, water, and friendly sympathizers. With the recent surge in militia membership and the Obama administration’s announcement that they will be reducing the number of Border Patrol agents next year, it looks like we’re getting ready to witness a showdown for the ages. And Dominguez couldn’t be happier about the level of shit he is about to seriously disturb.


The Transborder Immigrant Tool in action. It’s not much to look at, but it has the power to safely guide migrant workers from Mexico to the US and back. (Photo by Ricardo Dominguez)

Read the rest of the story here.

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