2011-01-03 US Dep't of State Internet Freedom Programs

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) are looking for organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that support what the document terms 'internet freedom'. Specifically, they have US$30 million for

projects that will foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet and other connection technologies in 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. Programming may support activities in Farsi, Chinese, Russian, Burmese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, and other languages spoken in acutely hostile Internet environments.

The State Department's previous attempts at promoting 'internet freedom' met with a lack of success, according to Foreign Policy because "By aligning themselves with Internet companies and organizations, Clinton's digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroad that Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism." The statement from the link above: "DRL and NEA support programs ... in countries and regions of the world that are geo-strategically important to the United States." may have helped convince their enemies. They will have the opportunity to disprove that idea when all of the following technology is turned in all other directions, as history shows it will be. Always assuming any of the new projects work better than, for instance, Haystack.

Counter-censorship Technology: ... to get around firewalls and filters in acutely hostile Internet environments.

Building the Technology Capacity of Digital Activists and Civil Society in Hostile Internet Environments in the Near East: Training on and access to communication platforms to share electronic information securely; training for activists, bloggers, citizen journalists, and civil society organizations to allow them to safely and anonymously participate in online forums; and promotion of peer-to-peer data sharing between mobile devices.

Virtual Open Internet Centers: ... identify and archive censored content and creatively reintroduce content and counter-censorship tools into those online environments. ... Competitive proposals will include centers focused on two or more of the following languages: Farsi, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Spanish, and Burmese, in addition to languages of other countries with hostile Internet environments.

Emergency funding: Establishment of an emergency fund for netizens under threat because of their web-based activism. ...

Internet Public Policy: Support for projects focused on media law reform in countries where changing legal and regulatory frameworks for the Internet have the potential to create acutely hostile Internet environments. ...

From Foreign Policy:

"The Internet is far too valuable to become an agent of Washington's digital diplomats. The idea that the U.S. government can advance the cause of Internet freedom by loudly affirming its commitment to it -- especially when it hypocritically attempts to shut down projects like WikiLeaks -- is delusional. The best way to promote the goals behind the Internet Freedom Agenda may be not to have an agenda at all.

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