The Human Rights Foundation will host the first ever “Hack North Korea” hackathon next month. The two-day hackathon will focus on developing innovative ways to get information into the walled-off North Korea. The hackathon is part of HRF’s Disrupt North Korea initiative that earlier this year launched USB drives loaded with Wikipedia into North Korea via balloons.
Regarding the upcoming hackathon, HRF explained:
Participants will become familiar with the various ways that information and truth are smuggled into North Korea today, and gain an understanding of the technology landscape inside the country. Then, guided by our North Korean guests, attendees will break into teams to come up with new ways to help end the Kim dictatorship’s monopoly of information on the twenty-five million people living under its rule.
The hackathon will take place Aug. 2 and 3 in San Francisco. North Korea does not have a free press today; however, some access to the Internet exists. Access is generally limited to high-level governmental officials. With the inch of Internet access open into North Korea, the HRF hopes to gain a mile. Thus, HRF plans to tap into the best minds of Silicon Valley to achieve its goal.
The hackathon is an invitation-only event, and around 100 participants will put their heads together in an attempt to breach the data wall that exists between North Korea and the rest of the world. Disrupt North Korea has attempted numerous methods to get information into the country (the aforementioned balloon drop, CDs, radio broadcasts, etc.). Most methods have relied on physical proximity and lack scalability. Perhaps the hackathon will produce some ideas that could work with the limited data pipeline into the country. We will anxiously await the results coming out of the August hackathon.