By Tracey Eaton (alongthemalecon.blogspot.com)
HAVANA TIMES — The Broadcasting Board of Governors (a US Federal agency) earlier this month signed a $2,291,666 contract with the maker of Ultrasurf, touted as “one of the world’s most popular anti-censorship, pro-privacy” computer programs.
Ultrareach Internet Corp., based in Cheyenne, Wyo., created Ultrasurf to help Internet users in China defeat censorship and surf the Web anonymously.
BBG’s contract records available online do not mention Cuba or disclose what countries the agency is targeting. However, Cuba has been a focus of the agency’s Internet Anti-Censorship Division, or IAC.
A 2013 BBG fact sheet on Internet censorship says the agency has provided Ultrareach’s “anti-censorship, pro-privacy software to users worldwide who are subject to foreign government sponsored Internet censorship.”
The fact sheet said the IAC: “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 broadcasters who target censoring countries to ensure access to their content and educate their audience about Internet censorship and safely circumventing filters.”
The document also states: “In an effort to promote potential future program growth, BBG studies and tests Internet circumvention tools beyond those currently funded.”
Evaluation of IAC tools is ongoing and an essential component of maintaining effectiveness and agility in the ongoing cat-and-mouse game of Internet censorship.
The IAC has worked with Ultrareach to improve the security of their Ultrasurf censorship circumvention client software.
The BBG has awarded Ultrareach a total of $4,699,999.92 in contracts for “custom computer programming services” since May 20, 2013.
The agency signed the nearly $2.3 million contract on June 4. Ultrareach expects to finish its work by June 10, 2016.