USA plans shadow internet

The US government, after revealing as much of internet as it can so Big Content can sue P2P pirates, now wants to create a secret one which could be used by dissidents.

According to cables seen by the New York Times, the US wants to create a shadow internet so that dissidents in other countries can complain about their governments.

The effort involves a secret project to create independent mobile phone networks inside other countries.

Central to the plan is an “internet in a suitcase” which allows wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global internet. The suitcase project uses a mesh network to transform devices such as mobiles or personal computers to create an invisible wireless web without a centralised hub. We bet some bright spark will commission Huawei for the contract.

Messages could hop directly between the modified wireless devices,  each one acting as a mini mobile “tower” and phone to bypass official networks.

Apparently the US has invested $2 million to back the “liberation technology”. The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries such as Iran, Syria and Libya.

The State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent mobile phone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country.

This was designed to stop the Taliban from shutting down the official Afghan services.

The Obama administration has been an enthusiastic backer of the programme, particularly since President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Egyptian internet in the last days of his rule. The Syrian government also temporarily disabled much of the country’s internet, which had helped protesters mobilise.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose department is spearheading the US effort, said that there were more people around the globe using the internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice.

She said that there is a historic opportunity to bring about positive change.

Still, we wonder how much enthusiasm the US Government will have for its dark web, when its chums in Big Content work out that it can be used to pass movie and music content between pirates.