Feeds

US gov funds censorship-busting tech alternatives to Wikileaks

How about some Chinese or Iranian secrets for a change?

High performance access to file storage

The US State Department, still reeling from its own battle with the online activists of Wikileaks, is nevertheless offering cash grants for technology to circumvent internet censorship by the Chinese and Iranian governments.

The call for applications follows a high-profile speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a year ago, in which she warned that "nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom".

With the State Department putting its money where her mouth is, grants of between $500,000 and $8m are on offer this year, from a total pot of $30m.

As well as counter-censorship technologies, officials are seeking projects that will develop "technologies, techniques, and training to enhance the security of mobile communications" for activists. In regions where advocacy groups and civil society are under threat, "digital saftey training" programmes will be backed, as will campaigns for internet law reform and a rapid response fund for groups under immediate government pressure because of their online activism.

"On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does," said Clinton last year.

"We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world's information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it."

In China for example, the internet is heavily censored against pro-democracy material and banned religious beliefs. Beijing demands powers of surveillance over internet infrastructure that Western firms, including Google, have found objectionable.

The US government's multi-million dollar offering this week to counter such measures is not entirely unprecedented. Clinton last year boasted that her department was already supporting internet freedom projects in 40 countries, and the Tor Project, probably the best-known online counter-surveillance technology, was originally funded by the US Office of Naval Research.

Wikileaks supporters have seized on the State Department's grant offering as evidence of hypocrisy. The US government reacted with fury when the site last year published frontline intelligence reports and diplomatic cables, which had been allegedly supplied by Bradley Manning, a low-level Army intelligence specialist.

Yet a criticism levelled at Wikileaks, including by former insiders, has highlighted its focus on releasing US government documents. The secrets of the more malign, undemocratic regimes targeted by the State Department's grants are ignored in favour of aggravating Washington with dumps of unsurprising - yet classified - material, it's charged.

Julian Assange, who has repeatedly complained that Wikileaks volunteers have been stopped and searched at US airports, would have far greater reason for concern had they been detained by Chinese, Russian or Iranian authorities, Wikileaks' critics point out.

In response, Assange has said in interviews that Russian and Chinese leaks will be published in future.

Full details of the State Department grant programme are here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.