The United States is planning for an intervention that promotes Internet freedom by throwing millions of dollars into new technology to break through Internet censorship overseas amid a heightened crackdown on dissent in China.
State Department officials said they would invest $19 million in efforts to evade Internet controls in China, among other authoritarian states, which blocks online access to politically sensitive material. The new technology would far surpass Virtual Private Networks, the current tool of choice to circumvent Internet censorship.
According to the AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state in charge of human rights, said the funding would support cutting-edge technology that acts as a “slingshot” — identifying material that countries are censoring and throwing it back at them.
“We’re responding with new tools. This is a cat-and-mouse game and we’re trying to stay one step ahead of the cat. In effect, we’re going to be redirecting information back in that governments have initially blocked, which can be done through email or posting it on blogs or RSS feeds or websites that the government hasn’t figured out how to block,” Posner said.
The funding comes out of $30 million which the US Congress allocated in the current fiscal year for Internet freedom but the recipients were not identified due partly to “reasons of security.”
The funding grants have yet to get a go signal from the Congress, but the official is hopeful that it would get approved quickly.
Meanwhile, halfway around the globe, Chinese officials aren’t too happy about it and will surely tighten its grip on Internet freedom even more. That’s added work for the recently established State Internet Information Office, the government agency assigned to collaborate with different organizations for the supervision and filtering of the Internet in China.