I had an interesting conversation with New Internationalist Radio recently on the uses of mobile phones in conflict transformation. I have suggested in the past that mobile phones are increasingly a means through which citizens can secure basic human rights, and accordingly need to be seen as devices that service basic human interests & needs.
The conversation centred around the potential of mobile phones for peacebuilding, and in particular, the manner in which they are used in Sri Lanka. I spoke on the current escalation of hostilities in Sri Lanka and the chilling effect its had on fundamental rights in general, but the freedom of expression and communications rights in particular, and how mobile phones both allow people to communicate in the worst of times, but are also cut-off regularly when military and political interests trump the provision of communications services to peoples in the North – East in particular.
Listening to the programme, I was surprised to hear from the producers of the podcast that Australia itself is contemplating shutting down mobile services as part of security measures for the upcoming APEC meeting. Clearly, it’s not just Sri Lanka that’s grappling with the vexed issue of fundamental communications rights vs. “national security”.