Insurgency? There’s an app for that.
An anonymous team of Iranian app developers have come up with a solution to help young fashion conscious Iranians avoid the country’s notorious morality police known in Persian as “Ershad” or guidance.
Ershad’s mobile checkpoints which usually consist of a van, a few bearded men and one or two women in black chadors, are deployed in towns across Iran and appear with no notice.
Ershad personnel have a very extensive list of powers ranging from issuing warnings and forcing those they accuse of violating Iran’s Islamic code of conduct, to make a written statement pledging to never do so again, to fines or even prosecuting offenders.
The new phone app which is called “Gershad” (probably meaning get around Ershad instead of facing them) however, will alert users to checkpoints and help them to avoid them by choosing a different route.
The data for the app is crowdsourced. It relies on users to point out the location of the Ershad vans on maps and when a sufficient number of users point out the same point, an alert will show up on the map for other users. When the number decreases, the alert will fade gradually from the map.
For every 80s (or later) kid who watched “WarGames” multiple times, there is a certain romanticism to the idea of some hacker kid in his room being better with computers than his government. Here in the early 21st century, it may be a lifesaver in many places in the world. Until governments start hiring (or conscripting) teenage-coding wiz kids the young’uns should be able to stay ahead of the game for a while longer.
Remember, this is Iran under its “moderate” (as described by the American media) cleric leader.
Let’s hope we never have to see what they’d call a hardliner.