Best Use of Government Money EVER

Iranian protesters avoid censorship with Navy technology

Iranians seeking to share videos and other eyewitness accounts of the demonstrations that have roiled their country since disputed elections two weeks ago are using an Internet encryption program originally developed by and for the U.S. Navy.

Designed a decade ago to secure Internet communications between U.S. ships at sea, The Onion Router, or TOR, has become one of the most important proxies in Iran for gaining access to Web sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

The system of proxy servers that disguise a user’s Internet traffic is now operated by a nonprofit, the Tor Project, that is independent from the U.S. government and military and is used all over the world.

According to the Tor Project, connections to TOR have gone up by 600 percent since mass protests erupted after the June 12 vote, which gave a purported landslide victory to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Over the past two weeks, we have seen a doubling to tripling of new client connections,” Andrew Lewman, executive director of the Tor Project, told The Washington Times Thursday. “We are up to a thousand new clients a day.”

Read the whole thing.

The Internet is good for lots of things. And, it has a downside or two, as well.

But the fact that it allows development of advanced technology like this, which can then be leveraged to fight oppression by freedom-seeking people, is the best part of all.

I supported Bush’s war in Iraq, because I knew that a primary goal was to establish freedom in the Middle East in order to put pressure on the oppressive governments in Iran and Saudi Arabia, in particular. Maybe, looking back, a project like this would have been just as effective, without the downsides of fighting a war. Iraq was considered the low-hanging fruit, although that assessment proved to be incorrect.

In any case, kudos to us for exporting technology to fight oppression. We do lots of things right, but rarely get any credit for doing anything right.

Via one of my newest daily reads, Danger Room.


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