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US funds secret 'internet in a suitcase' for dissidents

James Glanz and John Markoff (SMH) | June 13, 2011
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort, in what is perhaps the world's most closed nation, suggests just how many independent actors are involved in the subversive efforts. From the activist geeks on L Street in Washington to the military engineers in Afghanistan, the global appeal of the technology hints at the craving for open communication.

In a chat with a Times reporter via Facebook, Malik Ibrahim Sahad, the son of Libyan dissidents who largely grew up in suburban Virginia, said he was tapping into the internet using a commercial satellite connection in Benghazi.

"Internet is in dire need here. The people are cut off in that respect," wrote Sahad, who had never been to Libya before the uprising and is now working in support of rebel authorities. Even so, he said, "I don't think this revolution could have taken place without the existence of the World Wide Web."

The New York Times



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