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Join Your Local ARES, RACES, or MARS! We need your help before hurricane season.

Please Join your local Ares, Races, or Mars groups to help and seek help when SHTF

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As we have seen time and again recently, iphones, celltowers, landlines, do not always just magically work. Especially as we go into 5G, there will be mass disruptions of access to emergency services and first responders. Satellite phones and data do not work during the worst of the storm. Hell, even first responders may have no means to communicate. When SHTF, as we saw in Puerto Rico, Houston, Panama City, Mexico Beach, the ONLY operable backup communications system is long / medium range ham radio.  If your org does not have a backup comms plan, as seen in Puerto Rico, especially, you cannot coordinate multiple independent volunteer VOAD, NVOADS, NGOs, and government agencies at Fed, State, Local, and tribal levels, let alone across dissimilar military branch comms structures. There’s no other unifed comms device that lets community actually interact with national guard, coast guard life flights, civilian air patrol, hospitals, police, air force medevac and logistics, Navy floating hospitals, shelters, churches, EOCs, CERT, Brace, Red Cross, or local mayors, governors, fema, dhs, cbp, and others in an actual national emergency.  There’s nothing. They are all on dissimilar frequencies with dissimilar encryption and security protocols. This is by design. BUT it imperils us when everything else fails.  There must be some way to get ALL of these stakeholders to communicate easily, effectively, in an auditable ICS/NIMS compliant manner.

So what’s the best we got? At present, Amateur Radio Emergency Services volunteer VOADs … but these are old souls with dwindling numbers. We need new blood. We had previously only really used FCC certified ham radio operators, but we need to expand. We need to include, more generally, ANYONE from the community to help with and prepare for emergency comms. We could really use your help. Please consider joining Ares, Races, (or Mars if you are military). Towns and counties across America need your help – especially during winter blizzards and preparing for next hurricane season.

Even if you don’t have your FCC technician license, we can use you.  Help your community? If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email CatSignal.US@gmail.com below.  In the meantime, if you don’t have your ham license, you can still use smaller, tactical comms units like FRS/GMRS/MURS/GoTenna/MotoT800 / Sonnet Mesh, even CB to help ARES coordinate disaster response and recovery and gateway / digipeter between ham and unlicensed bands /devices. Some of these, like Gotenna even have civtak, ATAK team assault/awareness kit, blue team tracking, or APRS-like functionality, digipeter, TNC, Kiss, @mobilinkd with HIPAA-level encryption, 1 to 1, groups, or public broadcast and reception receipt.  Winlink still has its place, but for short comms hospital & shelter to EOC, Gotenna / talkabout moto t800 / sonnet mesh / beartooth / devices are not bad.

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Published by jollymonsails

Intellectual Property Attorney, Geek, Pro Bono Publico voluntario View all posts by jollymonsails

http://instagram.com/jollymonsails

http://meshrescue.net

http://catsignal.US

Catsignal.US@gmail.com

http://CircleOfCompassion.US

http://arrl.org/sections

http://gotenna.com

http://imeshyou.com

#imeshyou #gotennaMesh #Gotenna #MeshNetwork #Mesh #MeshNetwork

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On the Freedoms and Responsibilities Of Civic Speech

What is spam? Clearly someone who repeatedly sends solicitous messages for their own financial benefit is a spammer.  But, is a user who seeks to shed light on fraud in a public forum, addressed to public officials, towards the public welfare, and regarding public infrastructure / disaster readiness a spammer?

The First Amendment lays out several sacrosanct, inalienable relevant positive rights enjoyed by all Americans:

  • The right to unabridged freedom of speech;
  • The right to freedom of the press;
  • The right to petition government for the redress of grievances; and
  • The right to peaceable assembly.

There are limitations though. Can one utter fighting words that might imminently breach the peace or shout “fire” in a crowded theater? No.  Can one lie, falsely advertise, or commit fraud for their own commercial benefit? No.

First Amendment jurisprudence provides speech which is primarily commercial much less protection than other speech.  My speech is honest, truthful, regarding public concerns, motivated by love and my oath to provide for the public welfare and common defense, and addressed to public entities funded by taxpayer funds.

Some have said that I’ve been spamming my concerns about Gotenna and Twilio.  I’m not invested in either company or their competitors. My concern and sole motivation is to further the collective public interest in a strong communications infrastructure so that the next time a hurricane or disaster strikes, the people of Puerto Rico, my mother, perhaps your mother, and other Americans will have backup communications options firmly in place to reach out and ask for help.  I have no financial interest in this whatsoever.

So far, Gotenna and Twilio have dismissed my concerns, ignored my questions, labelled me a troll, blocked all of my accounts, deleted accounts on their forum and banned them for 1000 years; deleted threads and posts asking earnest questions; gotten my Twitter  and Facebook accounts suspended; threatened lawsuits; and offered me a $1000 to be quiet.

Is this the behavior of a company you would trust with your communications and maintaining your privacy?

I have only two asks:

(1) Will Gotenna and/or Twilio put best-efforts to enabling 911  / 112 / 999 access via their sms relay or Emergency SOS features?  ALL 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico are ready, willing, and able to receive text 911 messages.  FCC has required this since 2014- but still no movement on the part of Gotenna / Twilio.

(2) Will Gotenna and/or PR Reconnects live up to the promises of their fundraiser (fully funded in 2017) to provide an emergency backup communications network of “300” gotenna mesh comms devices to Puerto Rico? Will Gotenna provide the necessary connection to hospitals as called for before next hurricane season?

If either of these are important to you, please kindly ask @gotenna @pr_reconnects @javierMBGJ (Javier Malave) or @twilio (Jeff Lawson) for input on whichever platform you prefer.  support@gotenna.com

If you disagree with me or have suggestions on how to better achieve this, please consider letting me know why/how below or sharing your thoughts or advice here or via email privately at catsignal.us@gmail.com

The proof is in the pudding.  This clearly is not the 300 gotenna emergency backup communications units that the fundraiser called for and they are not satellite sms backhauled to the local hospitals or policia.  Ignoring 911 “Emergency SOS” messages when they could be quite readily delivered to any of the thousands of e911 ng911 text911 or text-to-911 PSAP centers is playing Russian roulette with innocent peoples’ lives with a blindfold on.

Quit the #BirdBoxChallenge ing Gotenna, Twilio, open your eyes. By refusing to allow 911, and discarding emergency SOS messages, you are creating an inherently dangerous situation.

Isn’t it our duty to shed light and to speak truth?

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Why Grandma Can’t Reach 911 if she gets run over by a reindeer on Christmas Eve: A story of ducks and chickenshits.

On The Nature Of Ducks (and Title II “information service” providers):

What is a common carrier?

What does the First Amendment have to do with common carriers?

What is estoppel (e.g., collateral estoppel, equitable estoppel… etc.)?

If someone walks, talks, and acts like a duck, and argues in front of the FCC and courts that they are a duck, aren’t they a duck?

Should a company seeking profit be able to argue that they are a duck in court when it benefits them but then, with the same mouth, argue vociferously that they aren’t a duck when it doesn’t suit them for legal purposes?

Believe someone when they show you who they are.

What do Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Gotenna, Twilio, and others all have in common? They all want to make money.  Accordingly, they provide services that enrich them and incidentally, we are all provided with a service.  Amazon Alexa is a great example.  From our perspective, we pay some amount ($19 – $149) and get a gadget that does things for us.  But what’s the real purpose behind Amazon Alexa from Amazon’s perspective? Where do they really make their money?

Similarly, Gotenna makes a product (e.g., Gotenna Mesh) ostensibly to connect people on the fringes of conventional communications coverage (hiking, sailing, ….) for emergency communications, and the like.

As a responsible care-taker of parents, at some point, if we are good children, then we’ll all need to face the reality that sometimes our elderly may need to reach out for help and we won’t be there to help them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get our seniors an Amazon Alexa, a Google Home, a Gotenna device and even if the celltowers fall, even if our parent falls and can’t reach the phone, they still have a fighting chance to get help?

The WSJ lays out an instance where an elderly lady fell and couldn’t get up, couldn’t reach her phone and tried to use Alexa to call 911 for help.  In my experience, my mother had her cable, power, telephone, and internet lines cut by a freak accident days before a hurricane hit her taking out her cell phone tower.  In another experience, a girl at Burning Man, out in the middle of the desert (with no cell signal) suffered third degree burns and couldn’t get help.

What’s the common thread?

911 access. There are many instances where we may need to ask for help… and sometimes we can’t simply pickup the phone to dial 911.  Home invasions, active shooters, domestic violence, infrastructural failures, deaf / HOH / elderly / children … to name a few.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple way to send a message to our first-responders or others in the community better situated to help without needing to use our voice, without relying on only one telecommunications service? Don’t we want a 911 service that is robust, intelligent, flexible? Don’t we want to provide backup channels to get the message out?  Isn’t, or shouldn’t, our goal be to promote the strongest, most capable, most accessible 911 service for our weakest members of society?

The FCC believes this to be true.

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So why am I blabbering about Gotenna?

Gotenna is the only reliable, accessible, inexpensive backup communications system that presently exists for 2019.  What about ham radio? It’s definitely good, but it requires an FCC license, study, an exam, and a fee.  Is it idiot proof? Would you feel safe leaving your Grandmother with a ham radio and being sure she’ll find the right channel and effectively get a message out?  Gotenna, on the other hand, serves as its own cell tower and local repeater. All in a package the size of a lighter and only $50 on ebay.  Gotenna Mesh uniquely broadcasts a loved one’s cry for help even when every other avenue of communications is down.  Gotenna sends out the message and if any other Gotenna within miles does have any form of service, it can relay the message out to the telephone network.  Which is great! Except that, for some reason, it will not forward the message to 911.  Any other number in the world can be reached, but for some reason, Gotenna will not allow 911 emergency messages.  Digging deeper, Gotenna relies on a cloud-based IP to telephone service provider, Twilio, and Twilio squarely forbids any emergency messages. Why is this?

So what other options are there? Well, Amazon Alexa and Google Home would be great! All she needs to say is “Alexa, call 911.” Unless well-meaning legislation or administrative rules created a disincentive from Amazon or Google providing 911 access (as is presently the case).

Tens of thousands of 911 PSAP call centers covering our biggest cities are ready, willing, and able to accept text 911 messages.  Sure, there’s more work to do to expand coverage out to our poorest counties and states… but text-to-911 is a mature service providing a last line of defense to tens of millions of Americans.

So, why won’t Amazon, Google, Twilio, Gotenna put the last brick in place to enable our loved ones to reach out for help?

Could it be that Amazon, Google, Twilio, Gotenna, and others truly don’t care about Americans? About saving lives? About providing an avenue for help?

Have their lawyers determined that it simply isn’t worth the risk? and having to contribute minuscule fees to 911 centers?

While Twilio does provide sms delivery services for Gotenna, their primary and most lucrative business is automating commercial text delivery (robotexts) marketing or advertising products or political candidates.  To these ends they’ve argued time and again in front of the FCC that text messages are an inalienable First Amendment Free Speech right.  They’ve argued that telecommunications services and providers are mere common carriers – obliged to dutifully deliver whatever they’ve been entrusted with (parcels, letters, telephone calls, and text messages).  Any attempts to interfere with Twilio’s text messages (such as  Verizon saving Grandma from a million annoying “spam” robotexts) would violate their First Amendment rights to have the message dutifully delivered without interference.  Thus, Twilio feels that they are, by extension, common carriers as well, a dutiful mailman, that neither deliberates or is unfaithful, but merely delivers the messages come rain, snow, sleet, or hail.  Twilio makes no judgment calls on hate speech, Nazi propaganda, child porn, fraudulent scam texts, they just deliver the message… UNLESS that message is a cry for help, a desperate message sent to 911. And in that case, Twilio, Gotenna, Amazon, Google, and others, argue that hey, we aren’t a telecommunications provider, we aren’t a common carrier, we are something new, tertium quid and the rules shouldn’t apply to us and we shouldn’t have to chip in towards community 911 access fees.

So if Twilio walks, talks, and acts like a duck (and argues in front of the FCC that they are a duck in Court)… shouldn’t we treat them like a duck? Hopefully, Twilio, Google, Amazon, and Gotenna will start doing the right thing and providing 911 access.  How can we help them with suitable rule-making / tweaking / cutting red tape / deregulating to avoid creating a perverse dis-incentive to new “information service” providers from offering basic community emergency access? Aren’t they estopped from arguing that they aren’t telecommunications providers?

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Is Gotenna Mesh Dead?

Has Gotenna corporate killed Gotenna Mesh in its endless chase of profits over people? It’s now been almost 5 months since any updates to the Gotenna Mesh app on Android Play store.  The USB software developers kit (SDK) is almost 4 months overdue. It’s been more than a year since Gotenna defaulted on their promises to build a critical backbone of hundreds of Gotenna Mesh Devices in Puerto Rico to connect the hundreds of thousands in the central mountainous regions hardest hit in the hurricanes.

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While 6 months without an update may be reasonable in some instances, critical vulnerabilities were unveiled at DefCon 26 by @Recompiler which basically pwned Gotenna devices. He was able to leak location data from sophisticated developers that didn’t even have a Gotenna device on them – showing us where they liked to eat lunch in both San Francisco and Brooklyn.  He was able to take advantage of encryption implementation flaws, rendering communications public. He was able to show a man in the middle and impersonation attacks.  And there’s been no update.

More concerning, Gotenna has offered no updates or statements on the girl who almost died at Burning Man back in August after naively relying, to her detriment, on the Gotenna SOS Emergency broadcast / beacon mode.  No statement has been made or any switch from Twilio to an sms backhaul provider that will allow Gotenna Plus Sms Relay (R) to text 911 services.  Nothing has been done to address the problem that the five-click SOS mode may not have accurate GPS location.  Nothing has been done to address backhaul to emergency services / 911 / 999 / GEOS.  Nothing has been done to address the security vulnerabilities demonstrated at DefCon.  And nothing has been done with respect to Puerto Rico.

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In stark contrast, Gotenna has put all of their efforts into a wholly incompatible Gotenna-Pro model (which operates on 140 MHz vhf and 440 MHz uhf) which is wholly unable to respond, receive, or relay gotennaMesh emergency SOS messages (902-928MHz ISM band).  In spite of the fact that it’s a software defined radio with modular antenna.

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GotennaPro android app was updated in November.  GotennaPRO usb SDK was released months ago to private operators? But no updates for Gotenna Mesh or release of SDK. GotennaPro employees FINALLY are in Puerto Rico range-testing with drones and helos to relay messsages from Orocovis to Bayamon to San Juan!?! While this is a very good sign, it’s somewhat disheartening that only now, a year after we did our own range tests and proof of concepts and started implementing a Gotenna Mesh network, that we are recreating the wheel but with a GotennaPro technology that our families, communities, and volunteers are not even legally allowed to use.  Moreover, the Gotenna Pro takes up to FIVE TIMES as much power and TEN TIMES ($499) the expense of the Gotenna Mesh unit.  When the towers fall again, our abuelas won’t be able to afford or keep these things powered.  Gotenna Pro does nothing for our communities – instead, it’s a return to centralized infrastructure in the hands of the government alone.  With millions in funding from the federal government, hundreds of thousands of Gotenna Mesh devices sold to consumers, and tens of thousands of dollars in public donations for the Puerto Rico Gotenna Mesh backup network, surely we can do better.  Stakeholders deserve a public commitment to the Gotenna Mesh technology not a bait-and-switch scam selling us a 10x more expensive version that no one can use, that renders Gotenna Mesh the same as a BetaMax (and that can’t even receive calls for help from our communities).

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If (being charitable) PR Reconnects, Javier Malave, PR Science and Trust, Starting Point, et al., built-up 20 some Gotenna Mesh relays around San Juan, some in Barranquitas, Toa Alta, Bayamon, and Naguabo, why would we now switch to Gotenna Pro which is 10x more expensive, requires 5x more power, and is wholly incompatible with this build-out already in progress? The mere fact that they are more profitable to Gotenna shouldn’t assuage our concerns but should enrage our passions! Where are the hundreds of Gotenna Mesh that were promised to Puerto Rico? They certainly aren’t on the imeshyou.com map over a year after funding was fully raised by the community.  Where are the tens of thousands of dollars we donated?

GOTENNAMESH  A good start, but hardly the 300 Gotenna Mesh units promised to Puerto Rico