On our show this morning we talked about the Justice Department trying to take down Wikileaks. But at the same time, the State Department is making a $30 million investment in promoting internet freedom around the world.
The “Request for Statements of Interest” is specifically looking for projects and services that counter censorship and enable Internet users to get around firewalls and filters in “acutely hostile Internet environments”; provide secure mobile communications; train users in “digital safety”; and support “digital activists” and build the technology capacities of civil society organizations in the Middle East and Iran. It will also support Internet public policy work, emergency funding for netizens “under threat because of their web-based activism,” and centers that track censorship and online dialogue in those same “hostile Internet environments.”
But the plan has critics. Evgeny Morozov of the New America Foundation says that to a lot of closed governments, this sounds like the U.S. is trying to foment revolution through social media.