November 12, 2006

Defeating the Internet’s enemies

Filed under: internet, news, software — jetfx @ 1:25 am

Last week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) named the worst enemies of the internet. It’s little surprise that some countries censor the internet like they censor other forms of media since they fear letting their population have unrestricted access to free media. China unsurprisingly lands in the top ten worst again. This is very problematic since China is very soon to be the largest internet using country in the world, surpassing even the United States, but does not even have basic political freedoms like freedom of information which is so crucial for the internet age.

However, Canadian hacktivist (internet rights activist), Ronald Deibert has a solution to this problem. Deibert heads the Citizen Lab working out the University of Toronto, and they have been developing a program to circumvent internet censorhsip. This program is called psiphon and is a free, easy to use download expected to be launched from their website this December 1st. Psiphon works by someone downloading and installing it in a country where the internet is not censored (like North America). After installing it, the user communicates by telephone with friends or family in the censored region, giving them an 11 character web adress. This address connects them to the computer with psiphon installed where they enter a username and password supplied by their contact. The person can then surf the net at will through their contact’s computer.

Since no software is actually installed on the computer in the censored region, there is no incriminating evidence if the authorities seize the machine. All communications between computers running psiphon are encrypted, in the same way online money transfers are encrypted, making psiphon indistinguishable from millions of financial transactions going on at the same time. And since psiphon is a personal system, with a web address known by only a few trusted people, it is virtually impossible for the authorities to block every individual psiphon user. The only way psiphon users could be caught is if their contacts betray them, but psiphon is ment to be used is trusted relationships. I think I adequetly explained how psiphon works, but more detailed information can be found on their website: Psiphon

So I encourage you who live in countries where the internet is unrestricted to go and get psiphon for any friends and family you have living in censored regions. Help defeat internet censorship; people should have the right to free information access.

I think I just got this blog blacklisted in China, Bardick.

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  1. HAHA! This is wonderful news. It has been a concern of mine about what to do with China being censored and becoming one of the largest countries to use the internet.

    I’m not sure how China censors their internet, but from the sounds of it, this is something similar to a encrypted proxy. The difference I imagine are the ports used.

    Hopefully China doesn’t go crazy and turn their networks into totally Intranets, effectively cutting off all lines to outside the country. That would suck for the people and businesses.

    As to being blacklisted in China, hahaha. Screw em. Everyone that knows me knows I support freedom of speech (I am very free with my speech 😛 ) and since China doesn’t give their citizens this freedom, I don’t give two sh!ts what they think of us ^_^

    Comment by bardicknowledge — November 12, 2006 @ 1:36 am

  2. I believe that psiphon uses port 443, the same outlet which financial transactions are sent through. China censors its internet by blocking urls of websites they dislike, as well as blocking anything that contains certian forbidden word chains. They also have an army of people hired to keep censor screens up to date and like 30,000 people hired to scan emails for “sensitve” information and opinions.

    Comment by jetfx — November 12, 2006 @ 2:28 am

  3. Now, the question is: what if China censors the word Psiphon, its website, and anything related to it?

    Comment by uhsieh — November 16, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  4. It doesn’t matter if China censors everything they can about psiphon (which they will most likely do), since the program is downloaded and run in another country. The users within China use psiphon via a personal connection to someone else’s computer and the whole connection is encrypted to look like a financial transaction. Therefore it is practically impossible for them to stamp the program out.

    Comment by jetfx — November 17, 2006 @ 3:57 am

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