State Department's Cohen on Technology and Freedom
But Cohen has turned his attention to many other parts of the world. In the speech, he shared anecdotes about his many travels. On a visit to Afghanistan, Cohen spoke to a terrorist who had attempted to blow up a prison using a cell phone-activated bomb. The prison had confiscated the prisoners' phones, but when asked by Cohen, the man produced an iPhone. Cohen also visited Russia earlier this year.
"Drug cartels, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas- they all use technology to cause us harm," Cohen said. But many other groups around the world are putting new tech to use for more honorable purposes, sometimes beyond what the creators of the technologies themselves even imagined. People in Iran, he said, are using Bluetooth to communicate with one another.
"The people who created Bluetooth didn't know people would do when they needed to innovate out of necessity," he said. One example was the protests in early 2008 against the FARC terrorists in Colombia, which Cohen called the largest ever against a single terrorist group. When Cohen sought to visit Colombia during the protests, he found that the "No Mas FARC" group was essentially leaderless, and the largest anti-FARC Facebook group was led by an unemployed engineer.