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US to spend millions on pro-democracy technology

Middle East and China activists will get US training
Fri Apr 08 2011, 14:48

THE US GOVERNMENT plans to spend a fortune on technology to aid pro-democracy movements in China and the Middle East.

The US is investing in technologies designed to support pro-democracy activists and has budgeted $50 million over the next three years. The INQUIRER covered the "panic button" supported by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which instantly wipes personal data from mobile devices and automatically alerts other activists if they are arrested.

US state department official Michael Posner told the BBC that the US is looking at ways to circumvent Internet blocking firewalls to stop countries from censoring the flow of information to and from their citizens. He also said the US is directly involved in giving technology training to pro-democracy campaigners.

"We are working with a group of technology providers, giving small grants," Posner told the BBC.

"We are looking for the most innovative people who are going to tailor their technology and their expertise to the particular community of people we're trying to protect," he added.

No technology companies have been named as working with the US government yet. But the promise of US investment comes as political activists in the Middle East have begun to rely increasingly on social notworking technology to get their voices heard.

Clinton herself pointed out how vital Twitter and Facebook have been in helping the pro-democracy revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and more recently Libya. µ

 

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