NYT: US Spearheads Creation of ‘Shadow Internet’ to Aid Dissidents

Posted June 12th, 2011 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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A published report says the U.S. government is financing a global effort to establish what is described as a “shadow” Internet system that would help enable dissidents seeking to undermine repressive governments.

According to a report published Sunday in The New York Times, the State Department is leading the effort with an allocation of $2 million. The Times says this includes the creation of independent cellphone networks within foreign countries.

The reported effort gained momentum after the government of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shut down that country's Internet in the last days of his rule.

Dissidents across North Africa and the Middle East have used the Internet to coordinate their anti-government protests.

The newspaper also reports that the U.S. government has spent $50 million to establish an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan, which uses towers on protected military bases across the country. The network bypasses efforts by the Taliban to shut down official Afghan services.

To support its story, the Times quotes unidentified officials, planning documents and diplomatic cables.