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Derived From: Congressional Research Service, Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Policy and Technology (Oct. 2013)
The BBG, through its Internet Anti-Censorship (IAC) Division, directly funds some of the initiatives to develop software and other technologies that allow dissidents to circumvent censorship and surveillance by their govern ments, and communicate freely. The FY2013 budget for the IAC was $9.1 million. Some of the specific initiatives include
development of Android apps, including censorship circumvention tools as well as secure device-to-device sharing of multimedia news and information; development of an SMS-based social media network in Cuba; ongoing evaluation of circumvention tools; and working with the Tor Solutions Group to increase the number of high-speed Tor exit relays and bridges to improve the speed of the Tor network.
In July 2012, in conjunction with Freedom Hous e, the BBG released a report, “Safety on the Line: Exposing the Myth of Mobile Communication Security.” 11 The report evaluates the risks and vulnerabilities of mobile phone services and apps in 12 specified countries: the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Belarus, the People’s Re public of China, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Libya, the Sultan ate of Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Tunisian Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The study analyzes multiple mobile technologies—including operating systems, applications, and mobile protocol—to determine their capacity to protect security and privacy and to combat censorship and surveillance.
International Broadcasting Bureau. The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), has promoted Internet freedom in China by focusing on its Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) websites, which are regularly blocked by Chinese authorities. In 2001, the BBG provided $100,000 to Safeweb Inc., a government contracted company that also had been briefly funded by the CIA, to set up proxy servers to help Chinese Internet users access prohibited information.53 However, within a year, Safeweb's technology was reportedly unsuccessful in protecting user identities.
Since 2003, the BBG has funded Dynamic Internet Technology (DynaWeb) and UltraReach, which have each developed software to enable Chinese Internet users to access VOA and RFA websites (see Table 1). Funding for these Chinese programs constitutes about three-fourths of the BBG's global anti-jamming expenditures, which are expected to grow by about 28% in 2006 from the previous year. DynaWeb's website is difficult to block because of "anonymizing" technology that regularly changes its numerical Internet Protocol (IP) address. Dynaweb president, Bill Xia, disclosed that earlier efforts to provide Chinese Internet users with unblocked IP addresses through an e-mail subscription service had failed because censors had also subscribed to the service, and quickly blocked those sites as well.
According to Xia, DynaWeb must evolve according to how China censors the Internet, and that "both parties can always implement new technologies to stay ahead and sustain the advantage." However, in testimony before the Congressional- Executive Commission on China, Xia stated that censors have a "brighter future," because China purchases the most advanced censorship technology from Western companies and has more resources than counter-censorship efforts in the United States.
Table 1. Broadcasting Board of Governors Funding for Counter-Censorship Technology in China
Source: Broadcasting Board of Governors.
As of April 2005, Dynamic's homepage was viewed about 90,000 times per day, while UltraReach allows approximately 4,000 visits and 30,000 page views for VOA and 2,600 visits and 28,000 page views for RFA daily.57 Visits to these sites reportedly rise when PRC censorship tightens, such as during the SARS outbreak of 2003. The BBG disseminates Chinese-language news summaries, some of which contain critical opinions or stories about China, to recipients in China via e-mail. These e-mails employ techniques that circumvent censorship and include IP addresses of proxy servers through which users may view VOA and RFA reports.58 Some U.S. companies are developing software for Chinese Internet users to circumvent the PRC government censorship firewall entirely. In February 2006, Anonymizer Inc., a company that specializes in identity protection technology, announced that it was developing anti-censorship software for Internet users in the PRC. Anonymizer's China program would provide a regularly changing URL which Chinese Internet users could access for unfettered links to the World Wide Web. According to the company, users' identities would also be protected from online tracking and monitoring by the PRC government. Peacefire, a free speech advocacy organization and website, has developed protocols for circumventing Internet blocking programs that can be used by Chinese Web users.
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VOA Annual Report 2009 CRS Report to Congress, Internet Development and Information Control in the People's Republic in China , Feb. 2006