Fire Chat is hot app in repressive countries.

Screenshots of the Fire Chat app.

An app called FireChat was designed to maintain access to the Internet when there is no Internet signal.

But it’s been embraced by people living in repressive countries where email is censored.

“In the past week, we’ve seen 40,000 downloads in Iraq alone. And the numbers in Iran are very comparable,” says Christophe Daligault, who handles sales and marketing for FireChat.

Iranians and Iraqis like FireChat because it lets them communicate anonymously, and without being censored by the government.

FireChat relies on something called mesh networking.

“Mesh networking is basically creating a network among devises that can be easier linked together without relying on the larger Internet,” says Mark Rotenberg with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

FireChat is limited to about 200 feet. But that range is expected to grow exponentially in the next year.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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