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Circumvention in Iran and China

The Times has a front page article this morning (yes, I still read the hard copy) on circumvention in Iran and China, which highlights a lot of people and tools we’ve discussed on this blog before, including Tor and Psiphon. (You can learn about additional circumvention resources in our tools database.) The piece also mentions Rebecca MacKinnon’s research, which we wrote about here . Her full paper is also a must read (preview: private sector blog hosting services are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for China’s online sensors).

You should also check out the recently released Berkman paper by Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman and John Palfrey, where they share the results of the testing of various circumvention tools. The technology behind them all is basically the same (like a bank shot in basketball, as the Times piece says), and their testing found that not all tools work as well as one might assume. Of course, users need to make their own decision about what to use and their relative merits, so this paper is an important read. They found that Tor and Psiphon were two of the best at the time of testing. Finally, at a recent meeting of bloggers and activist from the Middle East, I was struck by how many people in countries with restrictions on free speech don’t use these advanced tools–and are often not even aware of them. Hopefully, the press coverage will help spread the word a bit further.

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