23 October 2012

Internet Anti-Censorship Tools Are Being Overwhelmed by Demand

Washington Post (10/22/12) James Ball

The overwhelming popularity of U.S.-backed programs to thwart online censorship is limiting access to the tools in repressive countries because demand is creating bottlenecks and there is insufficient funding to expand capacity.  The United States invests about $30 million annually in Internet freedom, with the government funding nonprofits and other developers of software that can be downloaded by users in nations where censorship is rampant.  But China, Iran, and other countries are stepping up their efforts to stifle Internet freedom, prompting proponents to urge the Obama administration to ratchet up its own initiatives.  Calls for the Broadcasting Board of Governors to boost Internet freedom spending are being weighed against congressional pressures for the agency to reduce its budget significantly.  Officials privately say the funding issues are mired in security and political concerns.  Internet freedom activists say the development of online censorship bypassing tools is partly challenged by the need to determine the amount to invest now to help users avoid detection, versus how much to invest on more complex future projects that could keep up with censorship technology.


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