Members of Congress are expressing concern over developments at the U.S. Agency for Global Media which threaten to cripple anti-censorship and surveillance tools, normally funded by the $700 million agency that reaches an audience of 350 million in 60 countries worldwide, The Post reports:
They say global audiences rely on such technologies to receive U.S.-supported news and information produced by the agency, cutting off a communications lifeline even as Washington promotes pro-democracy advocates’ access to the outside world in places such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Tehran.
The agency is “an institution that has overwhelming, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and that provides critical assistance to dissidents in countries like China,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said, while Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, renewed a call for the agency to release $20 million in Congressionally-approved funds for the Open Technology Fund, the Post adds.
“The Open Technology Fund was making important progress to protect Hong Kongers if the Chinese Communist Party shut down communication in and out of the city,” said McCaul, who also chairs the House Republican China Task Force. “With those efforts having been on hold for weeks now [by the agency], and the [Chinese Communist Party] further cracking down on freedoms in Hong Kong, the singular focus should be to restart OTF’s critical programming. USAGM needs to release OTF’s funding today.”