Defying Censorship with Anonymizer Technology
Please read the article attached below which is about new technology advancements to make workarounds to Web-Blocking of IRI, Chinese and Vietnamese Communist governments, and other despotic states in the age of Internet. These dictatorial governments block the users in countries like Iran, China, Vietnam, etc. from accessing political and other "unwanted" information.
Here is the list of some of the Banned Web Sites by IRI:
Web blocking is *censorship* and must be stopped:
A year and a half ago I wrote about using proxy servers to defy this form of censorship:
But the new Anonymizer Technology discussed in the following article is an advancement of that technology and it is already accessible from Iran using the following URL:
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
IRANSCOPE Portal Iranian Site of Iran News and Iranian Culture
Sept 30, 2003
Web site takes on repressive government
Anonymizer helps Web viewers get around
state censorship in Iran, China
By Francine Brevetti, BUSINESS WRITER
San Mateo Country Times
Sept 30, 2003
As developing countries increasingly acknowledge the
importance of high technology to their economies, those with centralized
economies nevertheless tend to restrict their populations' Internet access. This
typifies the approaches of the governments of Burma, China, Cuba, Laos, North
Korea, Saudi Arabia and, to some degree, Singapore.
China, for instance, arrested a Web surfer last week who expressed his anti-government sentiments in chat rooms.
This past May, the Iranian government blocked access to a reported 15,000 Web sites. An unknown number are foreign news sites that would give Iranians access to news unmanipulated by the government in Tehran.
"People are hungry for news not controlled by the
government" said Ken Berman, manager of the Internet anti-censorship program for
the International Broadcasting Bureau. The IBB provides the administrative and
technical support for U.S.-sponsored international broadcast services other than
military ones. The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe may be among its best
To keep Iranians in touch with Western Web sites, the IBB contracted with San Diego Internet security company Anonymizer to circumvent Tehran's censorship, as it has done previously for users within the People's Republic of China. The value of the contract would not be disclosed.
"Anytime the VOA Web site is blocked, it's a good bet other sites are as well, (for example) the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and a whole host of other Western news sources. We went through a similar situation in China with Internet users trying the VOA or Radio Free Asia sites," Berman said.
When Tehran cracked down on surfing, numerous listeners reported to the IBB they couldn't access the VOA Web site anymore or that of Radio Farda, according to Berman. Radio Farda, also supported by the IBB, provides Iran with local news and stories that would not be carried through international commercial channels.
But since the adoption of Anonymizer's technology, the IBB has received positive feedback that attests to the satisfaction of Iranian listeners, said Berman.
This is how it works, according to Lance Cottrell, founder and chief executive officer of Anonymizer: The company e-mails in bulk to Iranians the name of a URL where they can find the VOA or Radio Farda without government intervention. Berman said Radio Farda also announces the URL on the air.
When an Iranian surfer goes to this Web site, called a proxy, it redirects them to the VOA or Radio Farda Web sites. There the surfer can also input any other URL that he wants.
Although the user accesses the proxy, the government cannot track what sites he is now surfing by virtue of the Anonymizer technology.
With the proxy URL being publicly announced, the Iranian government will surely catch up with it and block it eventually. But the URL is changed daily.
"We change it faster than they can block it," Anonymizer's Cottrell said.
Cottrell recalled that Iran's theocracy had been censoring print and broadcast before it became aware of the Internet's power to transmit criticism of the government or Islam.
Cottrell said that when he founded the company 1997 he was inspired to protect free speech online from tracking and monitoring.
Today, he insisted, the Internet worldwide is "absolutely more censored" than it was five years ago, especially among Third World countries.
"More and more countries are waking up to the importance of the Internet," he said -- to the detriment of free speech in the case of certain governments.
China is particularly a concern since it is attempting to circumvent the technology that Anonymizer provides.
"China is taking our box and reverse engineering it," he said. "First they just started blocking (Web sites), but now they are more subtle. Now they are redirecting (users). You try to go to the New York Times (Web site) but wind up at China Daily. And then they know you were trying to go to the New York Times."
Cottrell also despairs the many American companies whose technology, whether routers and servers or filtering software, sell their products to China, which uses them to subvert user access to the Internet.
Even as China keeps its iron fist on access, the government has proclaimed its future lies with high-tech and broadband communications. The IBB's Berman said the Chinese government is "spending billions putting fiber up and down the coast. Every new construction project has broadband throughout the office."
The Chinese government is contemplating a domain name registration system in Chinese characters rather than in the Roman alphabet.
Vietnam too has thrown its weight behind high technology to ensure economic growth, even while it, too, censors residents' Web access.
The Global Internet Freedom Act was introduced into Congress this summer. It would provide the IBB with funds to counter other governments' efforts to block and jam sites and the persecution of those who use the Internet.
Francine Brevetti can be reached at (510) 208-6416 and firstname.lastname@example.org .