WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is leading a global effort to establish "shadow" Internet and cellphone systems to help dissidents undermine authoritarian governments, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
The effort has quickened since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government shut down the country's Internet in the last days of his rule, said the Times report, which cited planning documents, classified diplomatic cables and sources.
The Internet has been used in recent months by anti-government protesters in North Africa and the Middle East to help coordinate demonstrations. Some governments have responded by disabling Internet access.
In one project, the US State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on military bases in the country, the Times said, citing unnamed US officials.