State Dept Anticipates Spending $25 Million on Internet Freedom This Year

What kind of Internet freedom support has the State Department provided in the Middle East region? The official non-response says an average of $19 million from 2008-2011 but did not break it down by region. And in 2012, despite the budget cuts, Internet freedom programming is up by 7 million in the Middle East and worldwide. Below is the official State Department response to that question:

ANSWER: Advancing Internet freedom is a priority for this administration. From 2008 through 2011, the State Department and USAID have spent $76 million on Internet freedom programming. This year, at a time when we are making significant budget cuts in many areas, we anticipate spending $25 million in Internet freedom programming. Through these programs, we provide training and tools to civil society activists, in the Middle East and throughout the world, to enable them to freely and safely exercise their freedoms of expression, association, and assembly on the Internet and via other communication technologies.

Across the Middle East, we have seen that access to technological tools enables people to tell their story to the world when they are otherwise silenced by repressive governments. Our Internet freedom programming is aimed at making sure that voices for peaceful democratic reform in the region can be heard.

As Yusuf (CatStevens) sings it – “Oh baby baby it’s a wild world, it’s hard to get by just upon a smile.” You need spending money, too. Absolutely!