The New York Times is reporting that the United States government is building internet and phone access systems that can be used even in the event that a foreign government shuts off internet access to its own people. It involves what's being called an "internet in a suitcase" where robust network equipment can be deployed to allow anyone within a broad radius to get online. The effort picked up steam after the protests in Egypt where Hosni Mubarak was able to cut off internet access to broad swaths of the country in an effort to quell protests. Recently, the government of Syria did the same for a while.
The new initiatives have found a champion in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose department is spearheading the American effort. "We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and seek to realize their aspirations," Mrs. Clinton said in an e-mail response to a query on the topic. "There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports," she said. "So we're focused on helping them do that, on helping them talk to each other, to their communities, to their governments and to the world."