Photo: Spin retrieved.

Jigsaw, the tech incubator division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, just launched a new app.  Intra sidesteps denial-of-service (DDOS) and other similar blockings through encrypted connections.

What should Venezuelans care? Well, because the makers of Intra are testing it here.

AP’s correspondent Scott Smith has more details in his latest dispatch and why we were chosen to host Intra’s trial-by-fire: “News junkies in Venezuela clicking on links to independent websites have been frustrated in recent years by messages on their screens saying the pages don’t exist—a problem most blame on government moves to block access to critical information.”

The Press and Society Institute of Venezuela (IPYS), a press freedom group, says that news websites critical of the government have been increasingly targeted since 2014. A four-day test trying to access 53 websites hundreds of times each day in August found roughly half were blocked, according to researchers.

Jared Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw, recognized the role Venezuela had in the development of Intra: “We didn’t build Intra for Venezuela… But the insights came from our work with Venezuelan journalists.” The app could help local independent news outlets like El Pitazo or Armando. Info, targeted by the communicational hegemony for its reporting.

According to Jigsaw, the app has been downloaded 130,000 times already and Venezuela is one of the top three nations (the other two were not identified by Intra’s makers).

But even if new high-tech tools can help Venezuelans break the wall of censorship created by the State, other low-tech issues have undermined the work of the media. In recent days, it has been the ever-present matter of insecurity: Both a warehouse used by Maracay newspaper El Siglo and the Anzoategui branch of the National Journalists Guild (CNP) got robbed.

And one frequent target of robbers has been the international media which still has presence in the country: The offices of U.S. TV channel Univision were recently robbed in Caracas and according to the National Press Workers’ Union (SNTP), at least six foreign outlets have suffered the same fate during the year, including CNN in three occasions.

It’s an unwritten rule that journalists and outlets shouldn’t be the news. But the media’s and the press’ situations in Venezuela have now reached an all time low. Under chavismo, the media became the news, and new tools to overcome censorship help us survive one day at a time.  

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  1. There is one thing that Chavistas never are , and that is gentlemen in the old sense of someone who cares about being civil, urbane , respectful of other people , not overly conspicuous , measured and balanced in his opinions , reliable, sober honest and of course modest. In ancient times what mattered was being not just respectable but worthy of the greatest public honours …….the figure of the gentlemen was born about the early XIX century and it had nothing to do with being of noble birth , or great wealth or saintly and heroic, more about your manners and attitude towards life . In english you have an expression to designate men who are natural gentlemen even if they are of humble station ‘natures gentlemen’. Remember a wise old german lawyer who having to describe a famous US corporation known for their unscrupulousness and shenanigans in polite company said of them ‘they are no gentlemen’ and that said it all about that corporation. and then come to think of it when I hear the names of Trump or Bolsonaro or Chavez whatever merit they may be said to posses by their many followers , the idea that comes to mind is that definitely ‘they are no gentlemen’ and never have been !

    • Yup… I recall a wonderful “gentleman” who once told me to my face ‘If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor’.

      Tha same gentleman also setup cages for immigrant children to be kept inside of.

      He was so gentlemanly that he had an illegal wiretap on the parents of a journalist ordered. And then lied about it for years.

      Yup, there are certainly gentleman to admire in this world.

  2. Funny that this effort by Google is being tested on VZ, but it is intended to be monitored by the gubmint in China.

    Because, we all know how much China loves free speech. Google has been 100% complicit in helping China crack down on “anti-social”.

    Google and privacy are two words never to be used in the same sentence as a compliment.


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