Senate to Hillary: Support Cyber-Dissidents (The Wall Street Journal)


"the most important of these groups is the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIF), whose software has been critical in Iran. During the protests of June 20 alone, more than one million Iranians used GIF tools to visit 390 million pages on the uncensored Internet."

"GIF has an impressive history of aiding anti-authoritarian movements in real time. When Burmese monks and others rose up against their military rulers in August 2007, its programs saw a threefold increase in average daily hits from Burma. During the March 2008 anti-Beijing protests in Tibet, Tibetan usage of GIF’s tools rose by 300%."

"The consortium was launched in 2000 by Chinese-American practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual group persecuted by Beijing. Using computers in data centers scattered around the world, it provides a series of programs that can be easily downloaded or distributed by email. The programs allow users to bypass censored domestic servers and access the Internet via GIF’s foreign servers. Users in Damascus can make the same Google searches as users in New York, without leaving a race."

"The widespread use of GIF’s technologies among Falun Gong practitioners and others has infuriated Beijing. So concerned is China with GIF that when the American technology giant Cisco solicited the Chinese government’s business in 2002, it did so by explaining how its technologies could help “combat the ‘Falun Gong’ ...”

"But Cisco’s pitch—contained in a PowerPoint presentation later obtained by GIF and presented before Congress last year—was for naught. Despite Beijing’s efforts to neutralize it, GIF has become so popular that it’s had trouble accommodating demand...."

"World demand approaches 10 million unique users per day, but GIF has capacity for only about 1.2 million. So when Iranians flooded its servers last month, GIF had to block usage temporarily to preserve capacity. Iranians sent the group thousands of messages pleading for restoration. Without GIF’s tools, one user wrote, “we have no contact with true data and true news.”



Original report from David Feith, “Senate to Hillary: Support Cyber-Dissidents” The Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2009 at