Psiphon Pstops Pcensorship

Published in NOW Magazine
July 12 – 18, 2007

Toronto-developed software opens the Net to restricted surfers

In Saudi Arabia, net users can’t get access to websites of opposition groups. Jordan and Bahrain both briefly banned Google Earth, citing security concerns. The Chinese government doesn’t let netizens get to the BBC site in any language.

So what’s a curious Web surfer to do in these Net-filtering countries?
They should get to know a kind-hearted soul using Psiphon (, a software tool created by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. By downloading this piece of software, someone in a free-thinking country like Canada can let a person in a restrictive society gain safe access to a portal to the uncensored Web.

Permanent Link

Radio Free Europe

June 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) – State censorship of the Internet is growing and the techniques used are becoming increasingly sophisticated, according to the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a partnership of British, US, and Canadian universities.

The group has released an initial list of countries engaged in Internet censorship, which includes China, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The group believes that states will target other means of electronic communication next, such as mobile phone text messaging.

Although as many as 25 countries make the current list of countries that engage in Internet censorship, the list is by no means exhaustive, according to Ron Deibert, one of OpenNet Initiative’s principal investigators and director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

Found HERE

Newsforge Article about Psiphon

An excellent article about psiphon in Newsforge.

As the author says, “Psiphon is not designed to solve all secure Web browsing dilemmas. Rather, it is a means by which those in uncensored countries can assist specific individuals in censored countries access blocked Web content — without placing any technical (or personal security) burden on those individuals.”

OpenNet Initiative releases Report on Vietnam

In a recently issued report, ONI finds an increase in Internet censorship in Vietnam. Drawing from technical, legal, and political sources, ONI’s research finds that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is focusing its filtering on sites considered threatening to its one-party system. Furthermore, the technical sophistication, breadth, and effectiveness of Vietnam’s filtering are increasing with time. Similar to China, Vietnam has taken a multi-layered approach to controlling the Internet; Vietnam applies technical controls, the law, and education to restrict its citizens’ access to and use of information. Vietnam is carrying out this filtering with a notable lack of transparency – while Vietnam claims its blocking efforts are aimed at safeguarding the country against obscene or sexually explicit content, most of its filtering efforts target sites with politically or religiously sensitive material that could undermine Vietnam’s one-party system.

The full report can be found HERE.

A Censored Network: Iran

Richard Rogers’ foundation has been doing cutting edge research on online networks for years, producing visually rich outputs that show connections among major nodes, typically using their issue crawler tool.

We at the OpenNet Initaitive have entered into a collaboration with Rogers and his team at to produce a series of issue-crawler maps of Internet censorship. The first of these is called A Censored Network (PDF), showing censored sites in Iran. Rogers and his team ran one of our high impact lists from our Iran Report through their issue-crawler. The discovered sites linking to those high impact sites were then fed through the ONI’s testing system to discover 30 additional blocked sites.

Stay tuned for more outputs from this collaboration.

Amnesty Slams Cisco

The Amnesty campaign is continuing to raise awareness and debate about Internet censorship practices around the world. Part of the purpose of the campaign is to focus on western companies who provide technologies of censorship and surveillance. There is a ZDNet UK article about the topic, with some of my comments on the matter, and the same old responses from Cisco about how they just sell the technology, not determine how it is used. Whatever their level of support actually is, they cannot deny that they know how the technology is actually being deployed in China and elsewhere around the world.

It is interesting to see how you end up being represented in these stories. For the record, here is my exchange on the matter with the reporter:

ZDNET: Can you comment on Cisco’s involvement in China?
1. How do you know that the Chinese authorities use Cisco routing technology and hardware?

RD: I know that Chinese authorities use Cisco routing technology because Cisco themselves say that they do. Cisco does not deny that its technology is being used, as evidenced by the testimony to US Congress of Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of CiscoSystems. You can read it yourself here:

ZDNET: 2. Does Cisco configure the routers for the Chinese, or actively help to block access to the Internet? Does Cisco supply any other kind of service to the authorities?

RD: In the same testimony as noted above, Mr. Chandler says:

“Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering
capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information…”

However, this is contradicted by the testimony of Ethan Gutman, which you can find here:

so it is a matter of making an educated guess. Some one is not telling the truth. My educated guess is that it would be unlikely for any company to have a major contract of this sort without supplying support for one of its primary service functions.

ZDNet:3. If Cisco supplies the hardware, is this detrimental to the local population, and why? Is Cisco aware of it being detrimental?

RD:I believe not only is it detrimental to the population of China, it is a violation of human rights, as outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. As to whether Cisco is aware of it being detrimental, you would have to ask them.