Washington, Feb 14: The US State Department invited computer developers to devise a free-of-charge communication technology to be used by repressed populations worldwide to circumvent government-imposed Internet shutdowns without compromising their personal security.
The Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announced on Thursday a 2 million dollar grant competition for a "censorship-defeating peer-to-peer" solution.
"DRL supports the development of anti-censorship technologies, including tools to permit peer-to-peer communications that can be useful during a network shutdowns or severe disruptions. DRL invites organizations interested in potential funding to submit proposals outlining program concepts that reflect this goal," the statement said.
DRL lamented the proliferation of the Internet shutdowns as "a devastating strategy to limit freedoms of expression" and praised peer-to-peer communications technologies as a valuable tool to remain in contact, organize and share crucial censored information during network disruptions.
The solution should be open-source, free, with "a strong emphasis on end-user security," able to work in "the most Internet repressive environments," DRL said.
US officials claim that last year they have already provided tens of thousands of Iranian protesters with means to communicate with each other in circumvention of Internet blackouts imposed by the local authorities. (SPUTNIK)