Web tool to bypass government censorship

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Toronto University‘s Citizen Lab has been cooking up a mean tool to bypass government censorship. Going by the name of psiphon, the software supposedly allows citizens in uncensored countries to provide unrestricted access to the Net to their friends in less fortunate countries.

“The program, called psiphon (pronounced “SY-fon”), will be released on Dec. 1 in response to growing Internet censorship that is pushing citizens in restrictive countries to pursue more elaborate and sophisticated programs to gain access to Western news sites, blogs and other censored material. “The problem is growing exponentially,” said Ronald Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which designed psiphon. “What might have started as censorship of pornography and Western news organizations has expanded to include blogging sites, religious sites, health information sites and many others.”” (see New York Times)

The idea behind Psiphon is that trusted people can give their friends unfettered access to the web, i.e. to create circles of trust, hopefully keeping out censors. And anyways, with potentially thousands and thousands of proxies popping up that way, it’s a lot harder for censors to go about their business than just shutting down more centralized anonymizer services. All one needs to login into the new, uncensored connection is a login and password (no installation required), provided discreetly by a friend. (Interestingly enough, Citizen Lab is part of the Munk Centre for International Studies, which focuses on research “at the intersection of digital media and world civic politics”. Meaning: It’s a mix of political scientists, media people and the IT crowd. Neat.)

Psiphon will be released on Dec. 1 here: Link