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US funds shadow networks, builds 'internet in a suitcase' for repressed protesters

Sean Hollister
06.12.11
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Whether a repressive government, a buggy DNS server or a little old lady is behind your internet outage, it can't be much fun, but the US government sympathizes with your plight if you're dealing with reason number one. The New York Times reports that the US State Department will have spent upwards of $70 million on "shadow networks" which would allow protesters to communicate even if powers that be pull the traditional plug -- so far, it's spent at least $50 million on a independent cell phone network for Afghanistan, and given a $2 million grant to members of the New America Foundation creating the "internet in a suitcase" pictured above. It's a batch of mesh networking equipment designed to be spirited into a country to set up a private network. Last we'd heard, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had pledged $25 million for just this sort of internet freedom, and the New America Foundation had applied for some of those bucks -- see our more coverage links below -- but it sounds like the money is flowing fast, and in multiple directions now.

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