Skip to content
Surprising Science

U.S. Aids Dissidents with Internet Tech

A project sponsored by the American government called “Internet in a Suitcase” is being used to help dissidents circumvent restrictions on information exchange in autocratic countries. 

What’s the Latest Development?

While entire countries have suspended Internet service in the midst of social uprisings, the U.S. government wants to keep overseas dissidents online. The goal is to provide “alternative internet and mobile phone connections that stay running even after oppressive regimes have shut down public communication services. It is pouring millions of dollars into projects such as the ‘internet in a suitcase’, a Wi-Fi enabled box which could be smuggled over a border to set up wireless communications.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Equating the Internet with a free society is too simplistic a view. Governments hostile to the free exchange of information can equally use the Internet to restrict information flow. In the United States, politicians “hope to crack down on file-sharing by giving the U.S. Department of Justice the power to block non-U.S. websites. The U.S. commitment to an open internet was also called into question last year over WikiLeaks, leading some activists to seek an alternative internet, one that runs using peer-to-peer systems.”


Up Next
Is a virtual currency free of intermediaries tenable given the recent string of hacker attacks? One user of Bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency, claims $500,000 was stolen from his account.