Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited LSE last night to discuss the State Department’s implementation of “21st Century Statecraft“, a relatively new initiative to better integrate “innovation” (read: the internet, social media, etc.) into American foreign policy and examine policies concerning the same. His lecture was concise and generally explained the principles they have adopted, strongly urged by Clinton’s own dedication to the subject. I admire the entire department’s work and am thrilled the secretary has spent so much time talking about issues like internet freedom.
I asked Mr. Ross about the State Department’s funding of internet censor busting technologies given the secretary’s speech in February and the recent (rather idle) threat from some members of Congress to take it away.
In her first major speech on the subject last January, Secretary Clinton warned, “nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom” and subsequently backed that up with $30 million in grant funding provided by Congress. The available grants, ranging from $500,000 to $8 million, have been slowly awarded to projects that enable activists and citizens around the world to circumvent censorship technologies like the Tor Project. Training and education programs are also funded.