China, Internet Freedom, and U.S. Policy [July 13, 2012]   [open pdf - 349KB]

"For over a decade, the United States government has sought to promote global Internet freedom, particularly in China and Iran. In 2006, the Bush Administration established the Global Internet Freedom Task Force, which was renamed the NetFreedom Task Force under the Obama Administration. Congress provided $95 million for global Internet freedom programs between 2008 and 2012. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has spent approximately $2 million annually during the past decade to help enable Internet users in China and other Internetrestricting countries to access its websites, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Some experts argue that support for counter-censorship technology, which has long dominated the U.S. effort to promote global Internet freedom, has had an important but limited impact. Obstacles to Internet freedom in China and elsewhere include not only censorship but also the following: advances in government capabilities to monitor and attack online dissident activity; tight restrictions on social networking; and the lack of popular pressure for greater Internet freedom. As part of a broadening policy approach, the U.S. government has sponsored a widening range of Internet freedom programs, including censorship circumvention technology; privacy protection and online security; training civil society groups in effective uses of the web for communications, organizational, and advocacy purposes; and spreading awareness of Internet freedom."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42601
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