WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 4-10, 2011)

TECHNOLOGY

US government developing activist technology.” BBC News. April 8, 2011. Protesters in Cairo using laptops Anti-government campaigners in Egypt use laptops to help their campaign to oust Hosni Mubarak The United States government is spending millions of dollars developing technology to help pro-democracy activists in the Middle East and China. Washington has begun to open-up about the projects which include a “panic button” that lets protesters wipe their mobile phones if they are arrested. State department official Michael Posner said that the US was investing money “like venture capitalists”. He also revealed that it was providing campaigners with technology training. The US has budgeted $50m (£30m) since 2008 for its activist projects, which include developing systems to get round internet-blocking firewalls. “We are working with a group of technology providers, giving small grants,” said Mr Posner, who is assistant secretary of state for human rights and labour. “We are looking for the most innovative people who are going to tailor their technology and their expertise to the particular community of people we’re trying to protect.” Mr Posner described the challenge of keeping ahead of government controls in certain countries as “a sort of cat and mouse game”.

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