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Monday, February 14, 2011

U.S. to lay out plans to support internet freedom -- leery of Falun Gong services?

There are other contradictions in the State Department’s agenda: it champions the free flow of information, except when it is in secret cables made public by WikiLeaks; it wants to help Chinese citizens circumvent their government’s internet firewall, but is leery of one of the most popular services for doing so, which is sponsored by Falun Gong, a religious group outlawed by Beijing...

Horowitz has organized demonstrations of the service for legislators, journalists and others. On Jan. 27, the day before the Egyptian government cut off access to the internet, he said there were more than 7.8 million page views by Egyptians on UltraSurf, one of two consumer services under the umbrella of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium. That was a huge increase from only 76,000 on Jan. 22.

The trouble, Horowitz said, is that UltraSurf and its sister service, Freegate, do not have enough capacity to handle sudden spikes in usage during political crises. That causes the speed to slow to a crawl, which discourages users. The companies need tens of millions of dollars to install an adequate network, he said. Under a previous government grant, the group received $1.5 million.

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