U.S. Backed “Internet in a Suitcase” to Help the World’s Repressed Have Open Access to the Internet

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The U.S. is knee-deep in a project with world-wide implications: developing an easy-to-deploy, difficult-to-shut-down wireless Internet system that can be deployed just about anywhere, providing Internet access to anybody – including those whose governments have otherwise shut down their people’s Internet access. Dubbed the “Internet in a Suitcase”, the technology has been financed by the U.S. state department, and is already in development.

The Internet in a Suitcase consists of several components, including a laptop, wireless antennas, cables, and thumb drives preloaded with software which can be used to bring additional devices online (as well as CDs with the same software).

Explains Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, who is directing the technical side of the Internet in a Suitcase initiative “We’re going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil. The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people’s fundamental human right to communicate.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one of the Internet in a Suitcase’s biggest supporters. “We see more and more people around the globe using the Internet, mobile phones and other technologies to make their voices heard as they protest against injustice and seek to realize their aspirations. There is a historic opportunity to effect positive change, change America supports. So we’re focused on helping them do that, on helping them talk to each other, to their communities, to their governments and to the world,” said Clinton.

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