Monday, June 14, 2004

Can You Hear Me Now?

More cell phone mania. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Conservative Party spent an estimated 3 million Euros (~$3.624 million US) last week to send SMS Spam to every cell phone in Italy, reminding voters of European and local elections that took place over the past weekend. The opposition party was incensed. Quite a few Italians were pissed too, as many of the messages arrived in the middle of the night.

Text messaging was used back in 2001 to topple Philippines President Joseph Estrada. SMS played a major role again in their election last month.

In South Korea, Ohmynews, an news website that lets the readers pick the stories, organized a grassroots campaign to send million emails and an untold number of SMS messages endorsing an underdog candidate they favored in their last election. The candidate won in an upset.

Meanwhile, above the 38th parallel, North Korea last week banned all cell phone use. The North Korean Postal System, the only service provider in the country, is actually impounding all the phone units. Sources in Pyongyang are now reporting that the explosion in the city of Ryongchon last April was detonated with a cell phone trigger in an assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Clearly, they figure that no phones means no bombs. Now where did I put that length of Primacord and the alarm clock? The ability to muzzle news dissemination is probably just considered a side benefit.


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