Kiev, Ukraine is the site of violent protest this week, as up to 100,000 people defied new laws which make it illegal to cover one's face, wear a helmet, set up tents, or use a sound system in what was formerly a peaceful assembly. The New York Times reports that protestors are using baseball bats, Molotov cocktails, and even a catapult, while riot police have fired rubber bullets and thrown stun grenades. Technology is also being used as a weapon of sorts. Around midnight last night, people standing near the fighting received an ominous text message on their cell phone:
Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.
While some governments like Egypt and Sudan have turned off their networks in response to violent protest, hoping the lack of an easy communication channel would disband the group, the Ukrainian government appears to attempting to scare its citizens by implying that Big Brother is watching and recording their every move.
While it's not yet clear how the government did so — three cell phone companies denied providing location data to the government, according to the Times — it's the latest example of how much power a government can wield with only a little bit of metadata. In this case, the location of these people alone might be enough to subject them to procecution. These protesters didn't seem to mind, though. Three hours after the messages were sent, the Times writes, a group dressed in ski masks and bicycle helmets clashed with police once more.