As Governments Get Censorship Happy, New Technologies Popping Up To Route Around That

from the damage dept

We've been discussing more and more movements from various governments towards censoring the internet, whether it's things as simple as "filters" of "bad sites" or more recent efforts by governments to shut down speech they don't like from people they don't like. However, as tends to be the case, technology seems to quickly come to the rescue. Late last week a new effort from J. Alex Halderman started to get some attention. Called Telex, it's a system for getting around internet censorship on a massive level, by using a variety of distributed nodes and disguising the type of traffic being sent over them. The idea is to try to make it effectively impossible to filter out certain sites.
So if you're in China, and you want access to a banned site like YouTube, you just type YouTube.com into your browser, and the Telex station will see that connection, and disguise it as something innocuous. You might be watching YouTube, but to a censor, it will just seem as if you're visiting a harmless, non-blocked site.
But that's not the only new technology popping up. Via Ross Pruden, we learn about a relatively new offering, called Where's The Party? which is designed as a "censorship-resistant mirror network." Basically it's a system that will mirror content more easily.

What's interesting also, is that this alerted me to Streisand.me, a project that is connected to Where's The Party? Streisand.me is (as you might have guessed) a mirroring system for content that is targeted in an attack likely to bring about a Streisand Effect response. I had no idea Streisand.me existed, despite my minor claim to fame of having coined the phrase "Streisand Effect." I have to say that's pretty cool...

But the larger point remains: as various governments move more towards trying to censor the web, technologists will create the technologies that make each of those efforts obsolete before they can get very far.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2011 @ 10:28pm

    It's amusing, but a program like Telex shows and incredibly high intent to bypass the filters, and in China, that would be a pretty high level crime.

    "censor resistant" stuff all sort of ends up in the same pile, if you are trying to avoid blockages which are legal in your country, you are just adding to your potential legal miseries in the long run.

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