GOP Slams Obama on Not Pushing Democracy Programs

Monday, 14 Feb 2011 10:03 PM

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In the wake of revolutions fueled by Twitter and Facebook in Tunisia and Egypt, the Obama administration is being taken to task for stalling on key democracy initiatives to help opposition groups laboring under dictatorships.

obama,democracy,twitter,clinton,iran,facebook,egypt,senate,voice,of,americaOn Tuesday, a report by the Republican minority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will say the State Department’s performance was so inadequate that the job of financing Internet freedom initiatives should be moved to another agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, according to The New York Times.

At issue is $30 million in Congressional financing that could have gone to circumvention technology, a proven method that allows Internet users to evade government firewalls by routing their traffic through proxy servers in other countries. But the Obama administration has dropped the ball on pushing the measure.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration plans to announce a new policy on Internet freedom that ostensibly will help people get around barriers in cyberspace while making it harder for autocratic governments to block them.
Backers of this technology say they need much more to install networks capable of handling millions of users in China, Iran and other countries.

“Certainly, the State Department took an awfully long time to get this out,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN correspondent and expert on Internet freedom issues who is now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “They got so besieged by the politics of what they should be funding.”

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