The next time a dictatorial political leader flips a nation's internet "off switch", a full-fledged web blackout could be next to impossible. According to a stash of classified documents obtained by The New York Times, the Obama administration is actively building a network of covert, alternative internet sources to preserve open web channels around the globe for just such a case.
The U.S. effort will cobble together diverse technologies to create a so-called global "shadow internet", investing in both cutting-edge innovations — like an unassuming $2 million "internet in a suitcase" that could be smuggled across borders — to decentralized homemade networks created by free speech-minded hackers.
During a political uprising in January, now-ousted former President Hosni Mubarak set a censorship precedent, turning off Egypt's web to hush protest efforts calling for his resignation. Since Mubarak's disruptive stunt, total web shutdowns have been enacted by the ruling governments in both Libya and Syria during similar political uprisings.