We take unrestricted access to the Internet for granted. But in many countries around the world, Internet access is controlled by the goverment, e.g. the red countries on the map above like China, Burma, Vietnam, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Ethiopia, etc. View an interactive world map of Internet control here.
At the University of Toronto a team of political scientists, software engineers and computer-hacking activists, or “hactivists,” have created the latest, and some say most advanced tool yet to allow Internet users to circumvent government censorship of the Web.
The program, called psiphon (pronounced “SY-fon”), was 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.
Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country, turning that person’s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted-access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites. The program’s designers say there is no evidence on the user’s computer of having viewed censored material once they erase their Internet history after each use. The software is part of a broader effort to live up to the initial hopes human rights activists had that the Internet would provide unprecedented freedom of expression for those living in restrictive countries.
Read a NY Times article.