Washington – The U.S. State Department has announced a new
policy on "Internet freedom," designed to address how social media
and other online platforms are being used both by dissidents to organize
against repressive governments, and by those same governments to quash dissent,
The New York Times reported. In development for over a year, the new policy
includes some $30 million to be spent supporting technological tools aimed at
evading government-imposed Internet firewalls, securing email, deleting data
and other areas.

"The United States continues to help people in oppressive
Internet environments get around filters, stay one step ahead of the censors,
the hackers and the thugs who beat them up or imprison them for what they say
online," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech announcing
the policy, The Times reported.

Critics charge that the administration’s slow
movement on the plan means that Iran potentially had an easier time censoring
the Internet during 2009 post-election protests.

Recent developments in Egypt,
Tunisia and elsewhere in the Middle East brought new urgency at the State Dept.
to roll out the new policy, according to The Times.


(photo courtesy U.S. State Department)

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(Sec. Clinton’s remarks)