U.S. Funding Secret Internet Access for Dissidents Abroad

By The Atlantic Wire

In the wake of the United Nations declaration that access to the Internet is a basic human right, the Obama administration is building a shadow Internet that will be accessible if foreign governments shut down access to the Web. The Atlantic Wire's Ujala Sehgal outlined some of the ways in which the U.S. might safeguard Internet access around the world. Among them:

Internet in a Suitcase A $2 million State Department grant is being used to develop a prototype "Internet in a suitcase," that the Times notes is like something "out of a spy novel." The suitcase project will rely on a version of "mesh network" technology, which can connect devices like cellphones or computers, creating a web without a centralized hub. Thus, each innocuous-looking suitcase acts as a mini-tower that can bypass the official network. "We're going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil," said Sascha Meinrath, who is leading the "Internet in a suitcase" project.

Independent cellphone networks This effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, like Iran, Syria, and Libya. In Afghanistan, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million creating a network outside of the control of the Taliban, which could shut down Afghan services at will, according to the Times. Details of the network are scarce, but military and civilian officials said it relied in part on cell towers placed on protected American bases.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/06/us-funding-secret-internet-access-for-dissidents-abroad/240330/