United States Agency for Global Media

Anti-censorship and circumvention

Reaching audiences in repressive regimes is an ongoing challenge. It requires agility, speed and adaptability, and the BBG uses every tool available to do so. Whether it is something as simple as email, as effective as radio over satellite, or as sophisticated as a mobile app that provides secure Internet access via the Tor network, the key is finding the most effective way to reach citizens on the ground.

Increasingly, repressive governments are collaborating on jamming, finding new ways to block content, and targeting activists. The BBG’s Internet Anti-Censhorship (IAC) Division provides a variety of tools to circumvent filtering and promote Internet freedom for citizens of countries whose governments censor their access. The Division works closely with BBG networks to ensure access to their content and educate their audience about Internet censorship and safely circumventing filters.

For example, Cuba remained one of the most tightly controlled countries in the world in 2015 in the availability and use of the internet.  To counter this, IAC, working with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, provided two-way, satellite-based connectivity and SMS-based programs, allowing the BBG to deliver 86 terabytes of information and facilitate the transmission of more than 10 million messages to addresses in and outside of Cuba.

IAC also continued to expand its capacity to send blast emails to Chinese, Vietnamese and Cuban audiences that consume BBG content.  These emails are also used to share information on Internet circumvention tools, web proxy addresses, links to web and social media pages, and satellite and radio reception information.  The BBG has nearly 20 million subscribers and delivered more than 952 million emails in 2015.

IAC’s censorship evading technology also enabled the BBG to deliver about 1.19 trillion hits and more than 67 petabytes (67,000 terabytes) of information to people who would otherwise be blocked from web-based URLs, desktop applications and mobile applications that link to proxy servers permitting access to BBG content and the Internet.