Uncle Sam has $30M to bypass Chinese, Iranian ‘Net filters
By Nate Anderson
Need to get around a Chinese government firewall? Burning to smuggle your samizdat writings past Iranian Internet censorship? Hoping to blog with impunity in Burma? Uncle Sam wants to help. The US government has a $30 million pot of money to spend on “Internet freedom” programs around the world, and it’s not afraid to make a few enemies.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year gave a major speech on Internet freedom and the new “Information Curtain” of censorship that has fallen in some parts of the world. In that speech, she said that State would support development of tools that can bypass Internet censorship. She also outlined a program in which State would fund mobile phone apps that allow people to rate government ministries on responsiveness and efficiency and that can ferret out corruption through crowdsourcing. The hardware is already in the wild, she said; all what’s needed is some money to make it worth developers’ time.
This year, State has $30 million for such projects, and it’s asking interested parties to apply for the cash. Top on its list of wants: “counter-censorship technology” that can bypass firewalls and filters. Such tools may be general (like Tor) or can be specific to individual governments. China and Iran can probably look forward to some US-funded encryption and circumvention tools coming their way in the near future.
The grants will focus on “East Asia, including China and Burma; the Near East, including Iran; Southeast Asia; the South Caucasus; Eurasia, including Russia; Central Asia; Latin America, including Cuba and Venezuela; and Africa.” North America and Western Europe get a pass.
In addition to circumvention tools, State wants to fund secure mobile communications tech that can make mobile phone usage safer. The government will also help nonprofits and digital activists build communication platforms, and it wants to establish “virtual open Internet centers” that exist outside of closed countries and provide a spot to post and archive censored content.
If you’re part of a nonprofit or a university (and are not an affiliate of a “designated terrorist organization”), you have a month to submit an online statement of interest.
Interesting comment by a reader:
“govt, doesnt give anything away to anyone (except themselves and their filthy bosses).
it smells like a trick to start the censorship and as usual in the name of democracy.
I had heard many years ago that they are planning to introduce the Internet 2 and shut this one down.
in any case the problem in USA and the West is Not the censorship the problem is Monopoly on info!
the rest of the world gets its info from this monopolized source!”