Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fight Web Censorship and Enjoy Your Privacy

Breaking Down the Firewall

--Meryl Rothstein

Internet censorship is the book burning of the modern age, denying as much as a third of the world's population access to news and information.
But a new brand of activists -- or "hacktivists" -- are using their computer expertise to help people stranded in Web-censored countries abroad (and corporate offices and military bases at home) jump the firewall. The key innovation, developed by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, is a software program called Psiphon. In the latest version (due out this winter), prospective users, or aid groups, contact the Citizen Lab to receive passwords and Web links. Once signed in, users are then patched directly into the Psiphon network of servers. A search bar pops up on their own screen, and they can surf the Web freely. All censors see is an unfamiliar IP address, which could be for anything from a bank transaction to an eBay sale.
According to Ronald Deibert, the lab's director, the biggest threat to the system is censors who might sign up for the service to learn Psiphon's IP addresses and block them. But the lab has developed a high-tech shell game to counter this measure. As soon as one address is blocked, Psiphon assigns it to another region and puts in a new one. When the next one gets discovered, Psiphon again swaps in a new one. The process can go on indefinitely, until the censors grow tired or the firewalls come down.



Geek Meditation Session