US leads the charge in building 'shadow internet'

The US State Department has been practically throwing money at activists and entrepreneurs in an effort to build independent internet networks for citizens of repressive regimes. This comes as part of a wider US effort to help internet users, particularly human rights activists, evade government censorship and surveillance.

Oh America, I’ve misjudged you.

Don’t think I haven’t forgotten about the whole Wikileaks thing. But this is pretty cool, guys.

The concept is simple: build a separate network infrastructure, using small-scale technologies, that is parallel to the state-controlled internet. This would allow activists to avoid government censorship and surveillance entirely, and best of all, these ad hoc networks would be immune to internet blackouts — a tactic which has become increasingly common in periods of unrest.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wants to make clear that their intent is to protect freedom of speech, not to undermine authoritarian regimes. Happily, undermining authoritarian regimes is a nice bonus.

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