Despite some early fanfare regarding Cell 411, an app for mobile platforms designed to issue alerts directly to communities in order to develop self reliance, we at the Twin Cities Industrial Workers of the World General Defense Committee Local 14 must revoke all endorsements of this application after learning of some of the highly troubling aspects of its design, use, and intentions of its creator.
For the long story, see this blog post:
In short: the application itself is not in fact decentralized, despite all claims to the contrary by the developer and company backing him. Cell411 is controlled by a private company that all user data passes through, and explicitly states that it includes a kill switch for accounts that it intends to use at will. This company even refuses to allow audits of its code or even discuss aspects of its internal design.
These policies are completely inappropriate for this type of system and a huge red flag, as these issues combined implies the monitoring and capture of content that could be sold or leaked without user knowledge. If that wasn’t frightening enough, the developer himself has a very long history of racist, misogynist, and celebratory statements of killings and other disgusting remarks to whomever he determines to be “feminists” or “communists”.
Given the complete lack of transparency for Cell411, the politics of its developer, and the common machinations of capitalist software models surrounding user data, we have come to the conclusion that Cell411 is inappropriate for serious use at best, and in all likelihood, dangerous for its users in reality.
Development of a truly decentralized and safe application for community response is currently ongoing. One promising project is known as Buoy, and you can find instructions for how to get it up and running here. We intend to get an instance of this running soon, and welcome further commentary.