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[liberationtech] New US DoS Policy on Internet Freedom and Circumvention Technology Assistance Due Today

Chip Pitts chip.pitts at
Tue Feb 15 08:51:08 PST 2011

A couple of teasers regarding Hilary's speech at GWU coming today.  Will it
include Wikileaks?

New policy to address Internet freedom

By Mark Landler

New York Times
Posted: 02/14/2011 05:59:05 PM PST
Updated: 02/14/2011 10:21:36 PM PST

WASHINGTON -- Days after Facebook and Twitter added fuel to a revolt in
Egypt, the Obama administration plans to announce a new policy on Internet
freedom, designed to help people get around barriers in cyberspace while
making it harder for autocratic governments to use the same technology to
repress dissent.

The State Department's policy, a year in the making, has been bogged down by
fierce debates about which projects it should support, and even more
basically, whether to view the Internet primarily as a weapon to topple
repressive regimes or as a tool that autocrats can use to root out and crush

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will lay out the policy in a speech
Tuesday, acknowledged the Internet's dual role in an address a year ago, and
administration officials said she would touch on that theme again, noting
how social networks were used by both protesters and governments in the
uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.

The State Department plans to finance programs like circumvention services,
which enable users to evade Internet firewalls, and training for human
rights workers on how to secure e-mail from surveillance or wipe
incriminating data from cell phones if they are detained by the police.

Administration officials say that the emphasis on a broad array of projects
-- hotly disputed by some technology experts and human rights activists --
reflects their view that technology can be a force that leads
to democratic change, but is not a "magic bullet" that brings down
repressive regimes.

"People are so enamored of the technology," said Michael Posner, the
assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. "People
have a view that technology will make us free. No, people will make us

Critics say the administration has dawdled for more than a year, holding
back $30 million in congressional funding that could have gone to
circumvention technology.

Chip Pitts
Lecturer in Law
Stanford Law School
Oxford University

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