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Linux's WireGuard VPN is here and ready to protect you
ZDNet reports on the latest Linux version (5.6) release, which was released Sunday and comes with with OTF-supported WireGuard https://www.opentech.fund/results/supported-projects/wireguard/ "baked in": "WireGuard is a radical new approach to VPNs. With its minimal codebase -- about 4,000 lines of code -- it's much easier to debug and secure than its rivals such as OpenVPN with its over 100,000 lines...While it's home is on Linux, WireGuard is designed as a general-purpose VPN for everything from Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices to supercomputers. It's also cross-platform with support for the BSD Unixes, MacOS, Windows on computers, and Android and iOS on smartphones...Simple, fast, and secure. WireGuard promises to not only be the future of Linux VPNs but of all VPN programs. Some companies, such as Mullvad VPN, are always shipping it. Others, all the others, soon will be." - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet
otf  wireguard  vpn  linux  security  access  circumvention 
3 days ago by dmcdev
RSF opens “The Uncensored Library” – The digital home of Press Freedom within a global computer game
"In [countries with repressive information control regimes], where websites, blogs and free press in general are strictly limited, Minecraft is still accessible by everyone. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) used this backdoor to build 'The Uncensored Libra- ry': A library that is now accessible on an open server for Minecraft players around the globe. The library is filled with books, containing articles that were censored in their country of origin. These articles are now available again within Minecraft hidden from government surveillance technology inside a computer game. The books can be read by everyone on the server, but their content cannot be changed. The library is growing, with more and more books being added to overcome cen-sorship." - Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
otf  censorship  access  minecraft  game  circumvention 
21 days ago by dmcdev
In Kashmir, a spree of arrests for alleged ‘misuse’ of social media and VPNs
"In Kashmir, there has been a surge of interest in VPN applications after the government allowed limited access to 329 websites in January, after six months of a complete internet shutdown. Keen to clamp down on VPN use, the security forces first resorted to physical checks of smartphones, as multiple Kashmir residents told Scroll.in. Then, on February 17, the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cyber wing filed a first information report on the alleged 'misuse of social media' through VPNs. The FIR invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons.

According to police officials, there have been no arrests directly under the cyber police’s FIR. But it has kicked into motion several arrests under FIRs filed at the district level. Scroll.in tracked down at least five cases of arrest since February 17, all for social media and VPN use." - Safwat Zargar, Scroll.in

+ Quartz reports on how some Kashmiris have fallen prey to sketchy VPNs in attempting to circumvent the blocks, resulting in lost photos and breached social media accounts. https://qz.com/india/1811040/kashmirs-internet-blockade-makes-residents-vulnerable-to-vpns/
otf  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  india  southasia  asia  access  shutdown  blackout 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
China stifles foreign internet to control coronavirus coverage
"Beijing is tightening access to the uncensored global internet, while carefully controlling its domestic news reports, to increase its grip on the media narrative around the coronavirus epidemic. China’s most popular VPN services, which allow foreign businesses and locals to circumvent internet censorship, have faced an onslaught of government attacks in recent weeks. As a result, some users are finding it more difficult to access censored websites, such as Google, Twitter and most foreign newspapers...Despite the government’s efforts, Chinese citizens have grown increasingly distrustful of state cover-ups, and some are looking to alternative sources for news about the outbreak. Daily traffic to GreatFire’s FreeBrowser.org, a website that allows Chinese users to browse uncensored foreign news articles, has roughly doubled since January 25, two days after the epidemic centre of Wuhan began its lockdown.

'Despite the wide availability of domestic news about the coronavirus, Chinese people are still looking to overseas, uncensored platforms, for more information. This is a very strong sign that most Chinese people do not trust the authorities to tell them the truth about the virus,' said Charlie Smith of GreatFire, an internet censorship monitoring organisation [note: OTF has supported GreatFire projects]...According to GreatFire’s Circumvention Central, a website that allows users to test the stability of their VPNs, the stability of Astrill, another big VPN service used in China, dipped in January to a four-year low. The number of people testing their VPNs using Circumvention Central has also increased in the past month, usually a sign that VPN users are experiencing problems." - Yuan Yang, Financial Times
otf  china  asia  gfw  coronavirus  censorship  access  circumvention  vpn  greatfire 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Indian police open case against Kashmir social media users
"Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have registered a case against unidentified internet users who employed virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent a social media ban in the disputed region, police said Tuesday, in an apparent effort to stop their use. Police said they misused social media 'to propagate a secessionist ideology and promote unlawful activities.'

'Hundreds of suspected misusers have been identified and are being probed,' said Tahir Ashraf, who heads the police cyber division in Srinagar, the region’s main city. Police said in a statement Monday that they have seized 'a lot of incriminating material,' adding that the accused could be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which also allows the government to designate individuals as 'terrorists.' Police officials questioned several users about their social media posts. However, no formal arrests have been made." - Sheikh Saaliq, AP

+ "While surveillance technology has proliferated in India over the last decade, institutional and legal safeguards have not kept pace. The Indian Parliament has yet to enact a data protection law, and the courts have failed to adequately grapple with the ethical and constitutional challenges posed by invasive new technologies. The Indian public, for its part, has largely shrugged off the steady creep of the surveillance state, which now collects huge amounts of data in a legal and judicial vacuum—and at times in open defiance of the law and judicial orders.

"India’s neighbor to the north, China, looms large in international media as an Orwellian state, with its expanding use of facial recognition technology and invasive data collection practices. By contrast, India is often portrayed as a chaotic democracy, its government far weaker and less capable than the fine-tuned autocracy in Beijing. That image belies the changing reality in India, where the government’s embrace of powerful new surveillance technologies increasingly threatens the rights of its people."

- via Foreign Affairs: India’s Growing Surveillance State https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/india/2020-02-19/indias-growing-surveillance-state
otf  kindia  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  access  asia  southasia 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Rising to the China Challenge
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a Congressionally mandated independent assessment entitled "Rising to the China Challenge: Renewing American Competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific," featuring several Internet censorship and security-related recommendations. From the report: "The United States should seek to disrupt the CCP’s system of online censorship, which is a core element of Beijing’s repressive toolkit. In the lead-up to its late 2017 Party Congress, Beijing began cracking down on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other mediums of dissent that had allowed Chinese consumers and visitors to China to circumvent China’s firewall and access censored content...The United States should expand and diversify its toolkit for communicating directly with Chinese citizens, both through circumvention technologies and other measures—including expanding Chinese-language websites—to help create an alternative, fact-based information infrastructure. Beyond developing more tools to evade firewalls, the U.S. government should continue to fund technologies and the distribution of devices that help dissidents maintain digital security, ensure mobile access, and reconstitute websites after a cyberattack. To develop these tools and foster further innovation, the U.S. government should expand the sources of technology funding to include foreign governments, foundations, and the private sector."
otf  china  funding  circumvention  censorship  gfw  asia 
9 weeks ago by dmcdev
Linus Torvalds pulled WireGuard VPN into the 5.6 kernel source tree
OTF-supported WireGuard https://www.opentech.fund/results/supported-projects/wireguard/ is a step closer to inclusion in the next Linux release candidate after it was merged into the git repository for Linux version 5.6, Ars Technica reports: "[On Tuesday], Linux creator Linus Torvalds merged David Miller's net-next into his source tree for the Linux 5.6 kernel. This merger added plenty of new network-related drivers and features to the upcoming 5.6 kernel, with No.1 on the list being simply 'Add WireGuard.'

As previously reported, WireGuard was pulled into net-next in December—so its inclusion into Linus' 5.6 source tree isn't exactly a surprise. It does represent clearing another potential hurdle for the project; there is undoubtedly more refinement work to be done before the kernel is finalized, but with Linus having pulled it in-tree, the likelihood that it will disappear between now and 5.6's final release (expected sometime in May or early June) is vanishingly small." - Jim Salter, Ars Technica
otf  wireguard  linux  vpn  security  access  circumvention 
9 weeks ago by dmcdev
India partially lifts internet block in Kashmir
"The Indian government partially revoked its internet shutdown within Jammu and Kashmir over the weekend, allowing people in the union territory to regain internet access to around 300 websites. The partial lift brings an end to a full-blown internet shutdown that had lasted for almost six months. Since August last year, internet, mobile phone, and landline services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended after the government came to the decision to remove the union territory's partial autonomy...With the official whitelist http://jkhome.nic.in/Home-05(tsts)%20of%202020_0001.pdf [PDF], the Home Department expanded the number of accessible websites to 301. Among the whitelisted websites include content platforms, like Netflix and Spotify, as well as international news outlets such as BBC, the New York Times, and Washington Post. " - Campbell Kwan, ZDNet

+ "Why would the government make us see only what it wants us to see? What is it afraid of? Why do I not have the freedom to browse whatever I wish to, on the internet? In this day and age, are you going to tell me not to use Facebook and WhatsApp, and then expect me to gracefully abide?" via Vice: Social Media is Still Banned in Kashmir, But VPNs Come to the Rescue https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/n7je7g/social-media-is-still-banned-in-kashmir-but-vpns-come-to-the-rescue

+ "“One of the reasons why India has so many shutdowns is that the institutional framework enables them...It is a framework where local officials have very broad discretion to order shutdowns." - Jan Rydzak, a research analyst at Ranking Digital Rights in IEEE Spectrum: How India, the World's Largest Democracy, Shuts Down the Internet https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/how-the-worlds-largest-democracy-shuts-down-the-internet
otf  india  shutdown  blackout  kashmir  southasia  asia  access  vpn  circumvention 
9 weeks ago by dmcdev
Chinese man arrested after making $1.6 million from selling VPN services
"Chinese authorities are continuing their crackdown against sellers of unauthorized and unregistered VPN software inside the country's borders, especially against VPN services that are advertised as capable of bypassing the country's Great Firewall technology. Arrests have been going since mid-2017, but Chinese authorities appear to have landed their biggest catch at the end of 2019. According to a report from Litchi News, Chinese police from the city of Taizhou have arrested a 29-year-old man that they claim has made a fortune by selling VPN services. The suspect, identified only by the pseudonym of Gao, operated a VPN service to bypass the country's Great Firewall since mid-2016. The service was extremely successful, according to the report, which claims that Gao made more than $1.6 million (11 million Chinese yuan) from renting access to VPN servers to more than 28,000 regular customers." - Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet
otf  china  vpn  access  circumvention  gfw  censorship  asia 
11 weeks ago by dmcdev
New Artificial Intelligence System Automatically Evolves to Evade Internet Censorship | College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
Geneva, a project now supported by OTF, is a genetic algorithm that learns how to manipulate packets—adding packets, altering packets, and so on—in a manner that evades censorship. The tool, which is being developed by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD), uses artificial intelligence to automatically learn how to circumvent in-network censorship:

"Tested in China, India and Kazakhstan, Geneva found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers say would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually...When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, Geneva modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognize forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection. Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of artificial intelligence that [UMD assistant professor of computer science Dave] Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard internet browser. Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code. Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets."

You can read more about Geneva in the project's recent Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Computer and Communications Security (CCS) 2019 paper (pdf): https://geneva.cs.umd.edu/papers/geneva_ccs19.pdf.
otf  geneva  censorship  circumvention  projects  ai 
november 2019 by dmcdev
BBC News launches 'dark web' Tor mirror
Through OTF support, BBC News now has a dedicated .onion address - a mirror site of BBC's international news site, allowing censored users to circumvent blocks and access BBC content more securely via the Tor Browser. As BBC said in a news article announcing the site's launch:

"Instead of visiting bbc.co.uk/news or bbc.com/news, users of the Tor browser can visit the new bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion web address. Clicking this web address will not work in a regular web browser. The dark web copy of the BBC News website will be the international edition, as seen from outside the UK. It will include foreign language services such as BBC Arabic, BBC Persian and BBC Russian."
otf  tor  bbc  dg7  onion  access  censorship  circumvention 
october 2019 by dmcdev
New App Allows Intercept Readers in China to Bypass Firewall
"Since June, people in China have been unable to read The Intercept, after the country’s government apparently banned our website, along with those of several other media organizations. Today, we are happy to announce a workaround that will allow people in China to circumvent the restrictions, access our full site, and continue to read our award-winning journalism. In partnership with Psiphon, an anti-censorship organization based in Canada, we are launching a custom app for Android and Windows devices that bypasses China’s so-called Great Firewall and will allow our readers there to visit theintercept.com once again. (The app is not currently available for iOS in China because Apple has removed it from the app store there, citing local regulations.) To get the app, readers in China and other countries where The Intercept is not accessible can send a blank email to china@theintercept.com, and they will receive an automated response from Psiphon containing a download link." - Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept
otf  china  psiphon  vpn  access  circumvention  gfw  censorship  media 
august 2019 by dmcdev
Chinese people are pushing back on Beijing's digital surveillance
"In the face of mounting pressure on personal freedom, Chinese internet users appear to be trying more actively to push back against tightening digital surveillance from Beijing. On both Chinese and foreign websites, discussions, tips and software hacks to combat the government’s grip over cyberspace have picked up in recent months. The advice represents a rare wave of resistance to the government’s use of intrusive surveillance tools to gather data on its citizens, and comes as a number of recent media reports have reignited the fears of many that they could face repercussions for seeking out content deemed 'sensitive' by the ruling Communist party. People in China are already aware that their online communications, even messages sent in private chats, are subject to monitoring and censorship. But recently, there has been a string of events that have left many worried that surveillance is becoming even more intrusive. There’s been coverage about phone-monitoring apps being installed on citizens’ devices, along with widely shared reports of police in Beijing conducting checks on people’s mobile phones, as well as accounts from some Chinese Twitter users on being questioned (link in Chinese) by the police for accessing the banned social network in China." - Jane Li, Quartz
otf  china  asia  security  awareness  circumvention  censorship  gfw  surveillance 
august 2019 by dmcdev
Iranians manage to surf the web despite tide of censorship
"Iranian authorities have sought to limit Western cultural influence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They began blocking popular sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube when activists used them to organize mass protests and document a crackdown after a disputed election in 2009. That hasn't stopped Iranians from accessing such sites through virtual private networks, or VPNs, and other services. It also hasn't prevented a number of top Iranian officials from using the sites to broadcast the official line. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif frequently tweets in English, and accounts believed to be run by the offices of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani regularly post on their behalf. Khamenei himself has urged the nation's youth to 'smartly use the cyberspace to slap the enemy in the mouth,' and pro-government accounts have proliferated on Twitter and Instagram. Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iran's clerical establishment, vowed to expand internet freedom when he was elected in 2013 but has failed to fully deliver on those promises, in part because the judiciary and security forces are dominated by hard-liners. In 2018, authorities blocked Telegram, an app that had been used by tens of millions of Iranians to send encrypted messages, after it was used to organize protests over economic hardships." - Mehdi Fattahi, AP
otf  iran  mena  access  censorship  circumvention 
july 2019 by dmcdev
Russian lawmakers want to restrict email access by telephone verification, and force providers to block banned information
"Russian senators have drafted legislation that would require Internet users to verify their identity using their phone numbers, before gaining access to email. The State Duma previously adopted a law that imposes the same restrictions on the use of instant messengers. Led by senators Andrey Klishas and Alexander Bashkin, the lawmakers have also proposed requiring email services to block messages containing information banned in Russia within 24 hours of being notified by the state authorities." - Meduza

+ BBC: Russian intelligence 'targets Tor anonymous browser': "Hackers who breached a Russian intelligence contractor found that it had been trying to crack the Tor browser and been working on other secret projects, the BBC has learned. Tor is an anonymous web browser, used by those wishing to access the dark web and avoid government surveillance. It is very popular in Russia. The hackers stole some 7.5 terabytes of data from SyTech, a contractor for Russia's Federal Security Service FSB, and included details of its projects. It is not clear how successful the attempt to crack the anonymous browser was, as the method relied heavily on luck to match Tor users to their activity. Hackers from a group known as 0v1ru$ gained access to the company on 13 July, and replaced its internet homepage with a smug smiley face often used by internet trolls." https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49071225
otf  tor  russia  censorship  surveillance  circumvention  legislation  law  policy 
july 2019 by dmcdev
A Bold Proposal for Fighting Censorship: Increase the Collateral Damage - by @weberv_
While domain fronting has suffered setbacks recently as a censorship circumvention tactic, there may exist other variants of this "collateral freedom" approach that similarly rely on the fact that some terms may be too important for states to block, Valentin Weber writes for the Council on Foreign Relations' Net Politics blog. Valentin is currently an OTF Information Controls Fellow researching both Chinese and Russian information control models and how they are exported to third countries worldwide. https://www.opentech.fund/about/people/valentin-weber/

From the blog: "[W]hat if there were other ways of ensuring high levels of collateral damage when blocking services? What if there were terms that are incredibly hard to censor, because the potential economic damage would be too great? The concept is the following: take an economically important term, such as Mate 20X, ZTE or even Lenovo’s advertising slogan Let the World Connect (让世界一起联想). Lenovo – Let the World Connect may indicate that the company connects the world, but it may also be a call for collective action. Tencent’s slogan Connecting People for a Greater Future (连接你我共生未来) may just as well indicate that people ought to go out and organize themselves in order to create a greater future...While major companies do the branding and distribution of the slogans, citizens can engage in a subvertising effort (a combination of subversion and advertising used by the AdBusters organization, for instance). Luckily all slogans will already be not only present in online fora, but also in the streets through the sheer presence of company advertising posters and material. While a company can just come up with another advertising slogan, in case it is appropriated by protesters, it is harder to change a company’s name that can be rebranded to serve calls for collective action...This approach can reintroduce the collateral effects of censorship as applied to social messaging, which has already proven to be effective in reducing censorship. By deliberately designing communication strategies to exploit collateral effects, the cat is unable to distinguish between the mouse and its own tail, and will choose not to bite either."
otf  china  russia  icfp  censorship  circumvention  access  foe 
january 2019 by dmcdev
Chinese VPN user fined for accessing overseas websites as part of Beijing’s ongoing ‘clean up’ of internet
"Chinese authorities have issued a disciplinary warning to a Guangdong man and ordered him pay a fine of 1,000 yuan (US$164) for setting up an unauthorised Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to connect to international websites, as Beijing intensifies its campaign to 'clean up' the domestic internet...It is not the first time authorities have singled out a Chinese citizen for punishment for offering VPN services in China. In 2017, as part of a 14-month nationwide campaign against unauthorised internet connections, including VPN services, a Chinese man from southwest Guangxi province, Wu Xiangyang, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for selling VPN services online. Wu also had to pay a fine of 500,000 yuan (US$72,790), an amount equivalent to the profits he had made from his VPN business since 2013. The most recent VPN clean-up campaign, which started in January 2017 and ran until March 31, 2018, crippled most VPN services on the mainland as the government required them to obtain approval. At the time Chinese authorities said the country’s internet connection service market showed signs of 'disorderly development that ­requires urgent regulation and governance'."
china  asia  censorship  gfw  vpn  access  arrest  circumvention 
january 2019 by dmcdev
Facebook makes connecting to their Tor onion service faster, easier
On Tuesday, Facebook announced a new way to connect to their Tor onion service (https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion) that makes it easier for users, who won't have to remember that longwinded onion service address any more: "...Now, using a browser feature recently added to Tor Browser, we can help move this traffic [from 'facebook.com'] to onion services too. This helps secure people's connections to Facebook over Tor, while relieving some capacity from the Tor network.
When using facebook.com in the Tor Browser, we serve an HTTP response header called "Alternative Services" that specifies a different (i.e. onion) service that the browser can use. We've set up multiple new onion services for this purpose to help improve reliability and scalability. As a result, the Tor browser will connect to facebook.com using an onion service whenever possible. Unlike our original service facebookcorewwwi.onion, people no longer have to type in the onion address." - Will Shackleton, Facebook
otf  tor  facebook  social  access  circumvention 
november 2018 by dmcdev
Blockchain is helping to circumvent censorship in China
"Given the constant claims that blockchain is the solution to everything from poverty to corruption, it’s understandable if you’re skeptical," writes Spandana Singh for Slate, "[b]ut this is an example of a situation in which it genuinely has potential." Transactions completed over blockchain ledgers leave a permanent record of the deal, and within those transactions content that is otherwise censored can be posted, Singh writes. But it's no perfect solution given the relatively limited spread of such content compared to if it were posted on, say, a popular social media platform. And, as is true of other approaches in the ongoing cat and mouse game of censorship circumvention in China, authorities can simply block access to the transaction page, which has happened in the past, Singh writes.

For a timely, real-life example: Over the weekend, Chinese censors were busy blocking posts about a vaccine scandal in which "hundreds of thousands of children might have been injected with faulty vaccines." https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/world/asia/china-vaccines-scandal-investigation.html

Citizen Lab researcher Lotus Ruan pointed out on Twitter that "Chinese internet users once again use[d] blockchain to post censored articles," https://twitter.com/lotus_ruan/status/1021090262536290306 with a link to a transaction posted to Ethereum, an open source blockchain platform. https://etherscan.io/tx/0xb1ed364e4333aae1da4a901d5231244ba6a35f9421d4607f7cb90d60bf45578a The Ethereum post is ostensibly a posted record of a financial transaction completed with the Ether cryptocurrency, but down under the "Input Data" field, if you change the "View Input As" to "UTF-8," up pops a news article that has been scrubbed from the Chinese Internet detailing the vaccine scandal that has people up in arms.

This isn't the first time blockchain platforms have been used to circumvent censorship in China: Back in April, Quartz and others reported on how #MeToo activists used blockchain to post #MeToo-related content that was being rapidly deleted from social media platforms. https://qz.com/1260191/metoo-activists-in-china-are-turning-to-the-blockchain-to-dodge-censorship/. See that transaction here. https://etherscan.io/tx/0x2d6a7b0f6adeff38423d4c62cd8b6ccb708ddad85da5d3d06756ad4d8a04a6a2

Not without its challenges, but a novel circumvention approach nonetheless. Plus, blockchain all the things. http://www.johndehavilland.com/images/blockchain1.jpg
china  asia  blockchain  censorship  access  gfw  circumvention 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Uganda targets VPNs amid implementation of social media tax
In the face of a new tax forcing Ugandans to pay 5 cents (USD) per day to access a list of 58 popular sites, including the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Skye, many netizens in the country have turned to circumvention tools like VPN to avoid the tax. In response, "the government announced Monday it had informed carriers and ISPs to block access to VPNs," David Gilbert reports for Vice News, though it isn't clear how effective the VPN block has been.

"Angry citizens have taken to using virtual private networks to circumvent the tax and access social media, but the Ugandan government is working to close those avenues. The tax has drawn a strong backlash from Ugandans, as well as human rights organizations, who have labeled the government’s decision as 'another clumsy attempt to stamp on free speech'...The government said it hopes the tax will boost revenues by as much as $400 million annually, which could then be poured back into broadband infrastructure for the country...Once the tax came into force, Ugandans quickly sought out ways of circumventing the levy. An analysis of Google Trends in the country shows a huge spike in searches for virtual private networks."

Regarding the tax itself: apparently, it wasn't too hard for the government to implement, according to a report by Quartz: "As it turns out, it was actually pretty straightforward for a network operator to set up such a tax collection and enforcement operation, according to local telecom engineers who spoke to Quartz on condition of annonymity. These telecoms insiders explain it hasn’t required any new technology or external assistance to implement the “tax-or-block” system. Local telecom engineers only had to write new rules onto existing systems that already handled customized products like zero-rated services and the popular social bundles. The social bundles allow users access to the social apps (not the wider internet), a day or week at a time, at reduced cost, it has helped drive up usage of services like WhatsApp and Facebook."

https://qz.com/1319826/how-ugandas-social-media-tax-works-with-whatsapp-facebook-twitter-blocked/
otf  uganda  africa  tax  socialmedia  access  circumvention  block  vpn 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Venezuela blocks access to the Tor network
Last week, Venezuelan authorities blocked access to Tor over CANTV, the country's largest Internet Service Provider (ISP). The popular [OTF-supported] circumvention tool had previously seen steadily increasing traffic originating from the country as censorship is on the rise in Venezuela.

Access Now writes: "Direct access traffic on the Tor network steadily increased in Venezuela over the past two months, and even more sharply this month via Tor bridges — likely in response to a new wave of online censorship from the Maduro government. These most recent blocks have affected several major Venezuelan news outlets, including El Nacional and La Patilla, among others. While previous online censorship in Venezuela could often be avoided by switching DNS settings from a local Venezuelan server to an international service (like Google’s public DNS), this has not been possible for the most recent blocks. Instead, people have needed to rely on using virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor to circumvent government censorship. This increased use of Tor to access blocked content is likely what triggered these new restrictions to the tool. 'It seems that the government of Venezuela has found out how to do a very sophisticated block for the Tor network. It’s not only on the direct access channels, but also the bridges Tor provides to bypass that blocking,' said Melanio Escobar, Venezuelan technologist and journalist, and founder of Redes Ayuda. 'The government is moving forward to be as closed as China or Iran.'"
otf  venezuela  tor  access  censorship  circumvention  Southamerica  americas 
june 2018 by dmcdev
Apple Begins Removing CallKit Apps From Chinese App Store, Citing New Cybersecurity Laws
As part of a wider crackdown on VoIP services, Apple is removing apps that use CallKit from its Chinese app store, Gizmodo reports:

"Apple has begun removing applications that use the CallKit framework from the Chinese version of its App Store after the nation’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology moved to more strictly enforce recent cybersecurity regulations...According to 9to5Mac, Apple has begun warning developers that they must remove CallKit integration from their apps or they will be removed from the store. There are clear parallels between this and last year, when Apple complied with Chinese censors’ requests to remove VPN apps...Specifically, the Chinese government appears to be concerned that CallKit might allow users to avoid censors and surveillance, which is related to its overall concern over Voice over Internet Protocol communications. According to 9to5Mac, Apple describes CallKit as an easy way to integrate VoIP calls into other apps, which could at least in theory make it harder for authorities to monitor them...The laws have caused significant concerns for foreign businesses, according to the South China Morning Post, including provisions that required 'operators of critical information infrastructure' to provide an unspecified level of 'technical support' to authorities, as well as store data locally."
otf  china  asia  callkit  apple  appstore  circumvention  voip 
may 2018 by dmcdev
Despite ban, Iranians stay on Telegram via circumvention tools: @RadioFarda_ survey
Iran has banned popular messaging app Telegram, but that hasn't deterred Iranians from using the app - that according to a survey conducted by Radio Farda, which found that "more than 90 per cent responded saying they use anti-filtering software and had no intention of moving to alternative platforms."

Radio Farda: "Radio Farda asked its Telegram subscribers about their likely behavior as the authroities try to block access to Telegram..Of the total 9485 respondents, 9024 chose 'stay on Telegram using filtering circumvention software.' A very small group of 304 respondents said they have decided to move to alternative foreign messaging apps. The number of respondents who said they will use domestic apps was negligible...The survey was posted on May 5, 2018, five days after Telegram was officially blocked by the Islamic Republic...Almost half of the 80 million Iran’s population were using Telegram for various reasons, including accessing uncensored news. Exactly for the same reason, the conservatives were pressuring the government for a long time to filter Telegram."
otf  iran  mena  telegram  access  circumvention 
may 2018 by dmcdev
Corruption, Censorship and a Deep Packet Inspection Vendor in #Azerbaijan - @Qur1um
A new report by Qurium (operators of OTF-supported rapid response providers VirtualRoad.org) analyzes online censorship in Azerbaijan, how it is conducted, the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) tech purchased and used by the state to censor, and the ways in which Qurium have been able to circumvent such blocks to allow access to independent news sites.

From the report: "As a result of a major corruption scandal in Azerbaijan that involved high-rank government officials and business men with close ties to the government, we could see the ties between corruption, power and information control. As a part of our investigation, we learned that the equipment procure for information control in 2015, was bought from the infamous Israeli security company Allot Communications...The equipment was procured for no less than 3 million dollar, and the investigation revealed a complex network of bribes and kick-back payments to the network of actors that was involved in the tender...When the Azerbaijani government enabled the DPI features of the Allot Communications box in March 2017, and blocked some of the major independent media sites in the country, Virtualroad.org begun the quest for a solution to circumvent the blocking. One year later, we are proud to announce that thanks to hard work and a negligible budget, we have identified a weakness in the 3 million dollar DPI investment, that allows us to circumvent the blocking."
otf  Azerbaijan  access  circumvention  rr 
april 2018 by dmcdev
Microsoft and Amazon Enable Censorship Circumvention Tools in Iran. Why Doesn’t Google?
By blocking Google App Engine, Google is "indirectly allowing the Iranian government to block apps that piggyback on it to skirt online censorship," Motherboard reports. "After years of growing restrictions online, Iranians know a thing or two about getting around their government’s censorship system, colloquially known as the 'Filternet,' and they often turn to circumvention services like Virtual Private Networks, or Tor. Censorship circumvention isn’t done just with ad hoc apps though. And sophisticated government censors have become quite good at blocking specific apps. So, sometimes, an app that would be blocked by censors can mask itself within the traffic of a popular—and approved—service.

That’s a technique known as 'domain fronting,' which relies on piggybacking off of popular services like GitHub or Amazon’s AWS to make it harder for countries like Iran or China to block specific apps. The technique essentially makes the traffic of a certain app look like traffic from a major website or service that is less likely to be blocked because it’s too popular—blocking cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft’s Azure, which are used for a multitude of different services, would be perceived worse than blocking a small service that’s used primarily to circumvent surveillance. The concept behind domain fronting has been called 'collateral freedom.'

Besides AWS and GitHub, Iranian users could piggyback off of Google as well, but the Google App Engine (GAE), the service that would be used for domain fronting in this case, blocks traffic that comes from Iran. In this case, Google, not Iran is doing the blocking. The effect is that Iranians are unable to use some services that would be particularly useful during protests." - Lorenzo Franceschi-BicchieraiandJason Koebler, Motherboard
otf  iran  mena  collateralfreedom  circumvention  censorship 
january 2018 by dmcdev
As Iran Blocks Telegram, Millions Turn to Tech Tools to Evade Internet Censors
In the face of increased censorship, millions of Iranian users are turning to circumvention tools to access Telegram and other apps and websites. Four times more Iranians are using such tools than normally, reports Sam Schechner for the Wall Street Journal. "Iranian authorities have ratcheted up policing of the internet as part of an effort to end protests, but the crackdown is driving Iranians to tools that can help evade censors." As Collin Anderson says in the article, “People are using circumvention tools to access Telegram who might not normally use them. And that is giving them access to a much wider internet."
otf  iran  mena  iranprotest  telegram  access  circumvention 
january 2018 by dmcdev
How @PsiphonInc Is Helping Iranians Beat Tehran’s Internet Censorship
Psiphon's usage in Iran has skyrocketed in recent days amid ongoing protests. "In recent weeks, [the circumvention app] has become a popular way for protesters in Iran to break through the so-called 'Halal internet,' a colloquial term for efforts by the regime to filter what everyday Iranians do and don’t see, blocking entire websites and apps for the country’s 80 million citizens and sometimes cutting off internet altogether.

Since protests cropped up across Iran at the end of 2017, Psiphon reports that its usage has skyrocketed.

'Over the last week, Psiphon saw unprecedented app downloads and usage across our network from all platforms in Iran,' Irv Simpson, who works in development for Psiphon, told Motherboard.

Simpson broke down the numbers: On an average day, the app, available for Windows, Android, and iOS, is downloaded some 35,000-40,000 times. From New Year’s Eve until January 3 of this year, the app was hitting 700,000 per day." - Justin Ling, Motherboard
otf  iran  psiphon  mena  circumvention  censorship 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Threat modeling and circumvention of Internet censorship (pdf) #research
Developing a good circumvention tool and researching internet censorship requires a solid understanding of how and why censors do what they do, but this is an area that could be better understood. "A censor model should be understood not just as a set of capabilities—such as the ability to monitor network traffic—but as a set of priorities constrained by resource limitations," writes David Fifield of UC Berkeley, who addresses this issue by building "an abstract model of the circumvention problem and examin[ing] how to adapt it to concrete censorship challenges...I present two circumvention designs: domain fronting, which derives its resistance to blocking from the censor’s reluctance to block other useful services; and Snowflake, based on quickly changing peer-to-peer proxy servers. I hope to change the perception that the circumvention problem is a cat-and-mouse game that affords only incremental and temporary advancements. Rather, let us state the assumptions about censor behavior atop which we build circumvention designs, and let those assumptions be based on an informed understanding of censor behavior."
otf  research  censorship  circumvention 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Accessing Google Scholar under Extreme Internet Censorship: A Legal Avenue (pdf) #research
In China, sometimes sites may be ok to access in terms of legality, but end up inaccessible regardless due to a sort of collateral censorship. Google Scholar is one such example, as it is blocked along with the rest of Google's services, and accessing such sites is "a critical problem," say a group of researchers from Chinese and American institutions. They explore how such sites are accessed, and propose a new technological solution to circumvent censors and access Google Scholar: ". In this paper, we conduct a case study on how scholars from a major university of China access Google Scholar through a variety of middleware. We characterize the common solutions (including VPN, Tor, and Shadowsocks) by measuring and analyzing their performance, overhead, and robustness to censorship. Guided by the study, we deploy a novel solution (called ScholarCloud) to help Chinese scholars access Google Scholar with high performance, ease of use, and low overhead. This work provides an insider’s view of China’s Internet censorship and offers a legal avenue for coexistence with censorship." - Zhen Lu, Zhenhua Li, and Jian Yang of Tsinghua University, Tianyin Xu of UCSD, Ennan Zhai of Yale University, Yao Liu of SUNY Binghamton, and Christo Wilson of Northeastern University
otf  china  access  google  googlescholar  circumvention  gfw  asia  research 
december 2017 by dmcdev
Dissident website 'blocked' in Sri Lanka
"Access to a dissident website that often publishes articles critical of Sri Lanka's government has been blocked in the country, the portal's administrators said Thursday, as activists expressed alarm over deteriorating press freedom on the island.

The popular London-based Lanka E News became inaccessible in the country on Thursday, a day after publishing an expose alleging graft within the office of President Maithripala Sirisena in the procurement of state vehicles.

A source at a private service provider told AFP that Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has ordered internet service providers 'to block Lanka E News' across the island, but requested anonymity for fear of repercussions.

The website's administrators posted on their home page that readers in Sri Lanka had been blocked from accessing their content." - AFP
otf  acccess  srilanka  southasia  censorship  block  circumvention 
november 2017 by dmcdev
lib- erate, (n) : A library for exposing (traffic-classification) rules and avoiding them efficiently (pdf) #research
"This paper presents the design and implementation of lib·erate, a tool for automatically identifying middlebox policies, reverseengineering their implementations, and adaptively deploying custom circumvention techniques. Unlike previous work, our approach is application-agnostic, can be deployed unilaterally (i.e., only at one endpoint) on unmodified applications via a linked library or transparent proxy, and can adapt to changes to classifiers at runtime. We implemented a lib·erate prototype as a transparent proxy and evaluate it both in a testbed environment and in operational networks that throttle or block traffic based on DPI-based classifier rules, and show that our approach is effective across a wide range of middlebox deployments." - Researchers Fangfan Li, Arash Molavi Kakhki, David Choffnes, and Alan Mislove of Northeastern University; Abbas Razaghpanah, and Arian Akhavan Niaki of Stony Brook University; and Phillipa Gill of University of Massachusetts Amherst
otf  research  middlebox  circumvention  censorship 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Guess what Chinese travellers are bringing back home? VPNs, lots of them
"From VPNs shopped abroad to DIYs and fake US addresses, the inveterate Chinese netizen will do anything to dodge the Great Firewall," writes Coco Liu for the South China Morning Post. She tells the story of one Chinese student who returned from studying abroad in Germany with, among other souvenirs, "a set of censor-fighting smartphone apps" in order to circumvent censorship while at home in China. Such stories are becoming more common as China cracks down harder on access to and use of such VPNs.
otf  china  asia  vpn  circumvention  access  gfw 
october 2017 by dmcdev
What is Shadowsocks? The underground VPN alternative that China’s developers use to jump the Great Firewall
Quartz profiles Shadowsocks, a circumvention proxy popular among developers and tech-savvy users in China.
otf  china  asia  gfw  shadowsocks  circumvention  tech 
september 2017 by dmcdev
Apple has to face question of its 'red line' in China
Apple's decision to remove VPNs from its app store "can be defended...on practical and economic grounds," opines David Schlesinger, writing for Nikkei Asian Review. "Apple's operating system allows users to set up VPN connections themselves without using an app. It is nowhere near as convenient and users need to have a way of paying a VPN provider directly instead of going through Apple. However, you can certainly argue that convenience, while important, is not a human right.

On economic grounds, Apple's duty to its shareholders means protecting China both as a huge and potentially even larger market and safeguarding the company's extensive and vital manufacturing operations there. Punitive disruption to Apple's access to the Chinese market would be bad, but could probably be overcome. Interruptions to its global supply chain could potentially be disastrous."
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  access  apple  vpn  circumvention 
august 2017 by dmcdev
UN human rights watchdog @davidakaye sends Apple letter over China VPN demands
"David Kaye, the special rapporteur on opinion and expression, sent several questions to the company's chief executive, Tim Cook, in a communication, dated Friday, to ask among several things if Apple received a formal or informal demands by Beijing to remove the apps, and if the company made any objections.

'I am mindful of the challenges that your business and other technology and media companies face in expanding access to your products in China, products which often expand communication and access to information,' said Kaye.

'In recent years, China has expanded the scope of its censorship tools and efforts, coming at the expense of individual rights to freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of association, and other fundamental human rights. Chinese restrictions put you in the position - unenvious, and likely reluctantly - of having to mediate between your customers, Chinese citizens, and Chinese law,' he added." - Zack Whittaker, ZDNet
otf  china  apple  vpn  access  humanrights  circumvention  gfw 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Russia and China’s VPN Crackdown Leaves Few Places to Turn
"As China and Russia move to block virtual private network services, well over a billion people face losing their best chance at circumventing censorship laws. First, China asked telecom companies to start blocking user access to VPNs that didn't pass government muster by next February. More recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law to ban VPNs and other anonymous browsing tools that undermine government censorship.

As citizens of these countries and people around the world scramble to understand the repercussions, US-based companies that operate in the countries have been swept up in the controversy. Apple complied with a Chinese government order to remove VPNs from its Chinese iOS AppStore, and the company that runs Amazon's cloud services in China this week said it would no longer support VPN use. Even hotels around China that offered VPN services to foreign visitors are largely curtailing the practice.

China and Russia's recent actions aren't new movements toward censorship, but they are escalations. And they leave citizens with few viable options for accessing the open internet." - Lily Hay Newman, Wired
otf  china  russia  access  vpn  circumvention 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Young Iranians Are Using These Apps to Bypass Government Oppression
"In a country where 60 percent of the 80 million population is under 30 years old, the mobile-savvy, VPN-using youth in Iran have been resisting government control. Telegram, the encrypted messaging service, has become a popular form of communication for political expression, for example. But young people are also up against internet censorship, moral policing and fundamental religious clerics. Even with a relatively more liberal leader like Rouhani, Facebook and Twitter are still banned.

In their quest for expanded civil rights, some Iranians are taking ideas from Silicon Valley to the streets of Tehran and channeling them into apps that fill the gaps in health, education and dialogue. Built by Iranians both at home and abroad, there is hope that these mobile solutions could work where protests and advocacy has not." - Virginia Vigliar, Motherboard
otf  iran  mena  circumvention  censorship  access 
august 2017 by dmcdev
China conducts censorship 'test' targeting circumvention tools
"Chinese censors tested on Thursday a new way of shutting down websites and cutting off the country’s internet users from the rest of the world. The censorship drill targeted tools that many in China use to thwart the country’s vast online censorship system, though internet companies said it also hit some sites at random.

One Beijing online video company watched as its app and website went offline for about 20 minutes without warning. The way it was disconnected — the digital tether that connected its service to the rest of the internet was severed — suggested more than a mere technical outage, according to the leader of the firm’s technology team...

A number of Chinese internet service providers said on their social media accounts, websites, or in emails on Thursday that Chinese security officials would test a new way to find the internet addresses of services hosting or using illegal content. Once found, these companies said, the authorities would ask internet service providers to tell their clients to stop. If the clients persisted, they said, the service providers and Chinese officials would cut their connection in a matter of minutes." - Paul Mozur, New York Times
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  vpn  access  circumvention 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Why Are Chinese Netizens Excited About Russia’s Ban On VPNs?
As Russia passed a law banning circumvention technologies like VPNs and Tor, Chinese netizens commented online their take on the development: "Different from China, Russia has no [Great Firewall] to systematically ban its netizens from the international internet. Many Chinese netizens pointed out the difference and commented sarcastically: 'The Russian netizens can still log onto Google, Youtube, Twitter and so on, while we can’t. So we are still No.1.' Others corrected the comment: 'No, we remain a tie for first place with North Korea.'" - Charlotte Gao, The Diplomat
otf  china  russia  vpn  access  tor  circumvention  gfw 
august 2017 by dmcdev
The Kremlin’s ban on VPNs is less about national security than self preservation - @AndreiSoldatov
"[I]t is Russian internet service providers (ISPs) that will come under most immediate pressure from the Kremlin. Having grasped how difficult, and costly, it is to win this technological rat race, the Russian authorities have passed on the problem to these providers.

They are now required to block those VPNs and messengers which don’t cooperate with the new rules. And if they are slow to catch up with, say, the engineers of Tor or Psiphon — the two most popular circumvention tools in countries with repressive regimes — the Kremlin will punish them mercilessly....

The Russian authorities have added a new enforcer into the system of Russian internet censorship, the Federal Security Service (or FSB), which will be tasked with detecting VPNs which have previously gone unidentified. Because, when the Kremlin talks of a threat to national security, no business is worth the risk." - Andrei Soldatov for Moscow Times
otf  russia  vpn  access  circumvention  tor  psiphon  kremlin 
august 2017 by dmcdev
In China, internet censors are accidentally helping revive an invented "Martian" language
"To navigate around restrictions, Chinese internet users have often engaged in linguistic acrobatics, from code words, slang, and coded images, to dipping into other languages. Recently, some have turned to Martian (huo xing wen), a linguistic invention from the early days of the Chinese-language internet that had fallen out of favor and now is resurfacing...In the face of renewed efforts to ban the use of individual VPNs and crack down on online video streaming services, Chinese netizens have become increasingly concerned about their ability to communicate online. Earlier this month, a Weibo user posted in Martian language: 'From today on, I will post on Weibo in Martian language. Because if I post in Chinese I will be gagged. Guys you can have a try.'" - Visen Liu, Quartz
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  martian  language  circumvention 
august 2017 by dmcdev
The road not taken: Secure asymmetry and deployabilityfor decoy routing systems #research
From the abstract: "Censorship circumvention is often characterized as an arms race between a nation-state censor and the developers of censorship resistance systems. Decoy routing systems offer a solution to censorship resistance that has the potential to tilt this arms race in the favour of the censorship resistor...Although decoy routing systems that lessen the burden on participating routers and accommodate asymmetric flows have been proposed, these arguably more deployable systems suffer from security vulnerabilities that put their users at risk of discovery. In this paper, we propose two different techniques for supporting route asymmetry in previously symmetric decoy routing systems. The resulting asymmetric solutions are more secure than previous asymmetric proposals and provide an option for tiered deployment, allowing more cautious ASes to deploy a lightweight, non-blocking relay station that aids in defending against routing-capable adversaries. We also provide an experimental evaluation of relay station performance on off-the-shelf hardware and additional security improvements to recently proposed systems." - Cecylia Bocovich and Ian Goldberg, University of Waterloo
otf  research  router  decoy  censorship  circumvention 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Russia, China vow to kill off VPNs, Tor browser
"Russia and China are banning the use of virtual private networks, as their governments assert ever greater control over what citizens can see online.

In Russia, the State Duma – the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (legislature) – unanimously adopted the first reading of new legislation that would ban the use of VPNs as well as online anonymizers like the Tor browser if they don't block access to a government-run list of websites.

That list of websites will include any sites that provide software that can circumvent censorship. And, most insidiously, the law will require search engines to remove references to blocked websites so citizens don't know what it is they are not allowed to see." - Kieran McCarthy, The Register
otf  china  russia  vpn  tor  access  censorship  circumvention 
july 2017 by dmcdev
China Tells Carriers to Block Access to Personal VPNs by February
"China’s government has told telecommunications carriers to block individuals’ access to virtual private networks by Feb. 1, people familiar with the matter said, thereby shutting a major window to the global internet.

Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives.

The clampdown will shutter one of the main ways in which people both local and foreign still manage to access the global, unfiltered web on a daily basis." - Bloomberg
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  circumvention  vpn  access 
july 2017 by dmcdev
The Great Firewall Of China Grows Stronger As China Forces App Stores To Remove VPNs
"Earlier this year China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declared that all VPN providers now needed prior government approval to operate, a move generally seen as the opening salvo of an outright ban. These new restrictions will last until July 2021, impose fines up to $2000 on companies offering unsanctioned VPNs (read: all of them), and feature government warnings sent to users consistently caught using the tools.

But in some areas, the pretense has washed away and VPN usage has been simply banned entirely. And as of July, VPN services began disappearing from both the Android and iOS app stores, with popular VPN providers like Green informing their customers the government has forced them to shut down completely." - Karl Bode, Techdirt
otf  china  asia  gfw  censor  censorship  vpn  circumvention  bypasschina 
july 2017 by dmcdev
An Analysis of Tor Pluggable Transports Under Adversarial Conditions (pdf) #research
"Tor Pluggable transports enable the users to overcome the adversaries which block access to the Tor network. Different pluggable transport systems use different mechanisms. Consequently, the adversaries adapt by using different approaches to identify Tor pluggable transport traffic. The deep packet inspection and the flow analysis are two of such approaches. To this end, we investigate how well pluggable transports can obfuscate user traffic under adversarial conditions. We represent the adversarial environments using the existing traffic analysis systems. Our results show that while some pluggable transports systems can hide the traffic well from adversaries, others cannot." - Khalid Shahbar and A. Nur Zincir-Heywood of Dalhousie University
otf  research  tor  pluggabletransport  security  privacy  access  circumvention 
june 2017 by dmcdev
International broadcasters launch resource for censorship circumvention, bypasscensorship.org
"A group of the world’s leading international broadcasters is supporting a new website that helps internet users around the world bypass internet censorship. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) [UK], [OTF grantor] the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) [US], Deutsche Welle (DW) [Germany], France Médias Monde (FMM) [France] co-sponsor the Bypass Censorship website. International news websites, along with social media and messaging channels used for accessing, sharing and engaging in the free flow of news and information online are routinely blocked by governments in many countries. Bypass Censorship provides information on how to access and download the security-conscious tools, and features guides on their use. When governments try to block these circumvention tools, the site is updated with information to help users stay ahead of the censors and maintain access to news sites." - Deutsche Welle
otf  bypass  bypasscensorship  access  censorship  circumvention 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Egypt censors websites as el-Sissi seeks investors
"Egyptian authorities are tightening internet censorship at home as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi seeks investment abroad, in what could be an attempt to tamp down dissent over an agreement to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia...Two additional websites were blocked on Tuesday, bringing the total number of obstructed addresses to 64 since the censorship campaign began in late May, The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression said in a statement." - Brian Rohan, AP
otf  egypt  censorship  access  mena  media  news  circumvention  bypassarab 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Mirror Websites Are Helping Turkish Users Reconnect to Wikipedia
"Although Turkey has blocked articles on Wikipedia since 2008, as noted in a recent report by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, these blocks are in keeping with regular censorship of the internet since 2007, when the Internet Law (No. 5651) was passed. With the wholesale censorship of Wikipedia, Turkey has become only the second known country in the world, after China, to block Wikipedia.

While the platform remains blocked, multiple 'mirror' websites — sites designed to reproduce the content of Wikipedia, which is constantly being updated — have sprung up. One such solution came from IPFS (the Inter-Planetary File System) when the platform put all of Turkish Wikipedia on their decentralized peer-to-peer hosting network, which does not rely on the domain name system, and thus is very difficult to fully censor. The content is thus accessible regardless of the government ban." - Arzu Geybullayeva for Global Voices
otf  turkey  wikipedia  access  censorship  censor  mirror  ipfs  circumvention 
june 2017 by dmcdev
The Russian State Media: Champion of Internet Freedom?
In an odd twist, Russia state media began advocating use of circumvention and anonymity tools after Ukraine blocked access to several popular Russian social media networks: "On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a sweeping ban on several titans of the Russian Internet, ordering officials to block access to the social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, the search engine Yandex, and the email service Mail.ru.

With millions of Ukrainians now at risk of losing their beloved online services, Russia's mainstream media did what it often does in unexpected geopolitical situations: it suddenly changed sides, emerging as a vocal proponent of Internet anonymizer technology, after years of ignoring online censorship at home." - Kevin Rothrock, Global Voices Advocacy
otf  russia  ukraine  circumvention  access  censorship 
may 2017 by dmcdev
The personal cost of internet shutdowns - stories from Kashmir collected by @davidakaye
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of Opinion & Expression David Kaye collects stories from the current internet shutdown in Kashmir, hearing from social media users how the censorship event is affecting their lives. Among the anecdotes: "i am using VPN to access internet,if u want to knw hw it was in stone age, come to kashmir,u will get to experience it"; "No network access in Kashmir...Complete ban on social media... Tweeting frm outside kashmir"; "It is a usual thing in Kashmir now. They banned Internet 31 times from 2012. In 2016 they banned it for at least 6 months." Many more stories from affected users available at the link above.
otf  kashmir  india  shutdown  access  circumvention  blackout  social 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Kashmir residents circumvent government-imposed social media bans
Kashmir residents use VPNs and other technologies to bypass censored social media sites, and adopt other means to access banned information: "The Jammu & Kashmir government’s order earlier this week to ban at least 22 social media websites and applications, including popular Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Skype, Telegram and Viber, is also bringing back another retro word from the Soviet bloc era — Samizdat, a kind of dissident activity to avoid censorship by reproducing underground publications and passing them on." - Hakeem Irfan, Economic Times
otf  india  kashmir  social  circumvention  censorship  access 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Russia Plans To Ban VPNs & Proxies That Unblock Blocked Sites
"The Russian government is preparing to scale-up its war on blocked sites by hitting services that provide workarounds. A new bill developed by the government requires VPNs and other anonymizing services to stop providing access to blocked domains. If they do not, they themselves will also be blocked. Search engines also face sanctions for linking to banned sites." - Andy, TorrentFreak
otf  russia  vpn  access  censorship  circumvention  putin  kremlin  Roskomnadzor  bypassrussia 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Russia drafts bill to block anonymizers and VPN services
"Russia has drafted a bill that blocks anonymous proxies and VPN services that refuse to prohibit access to forbidden websites, Vedomosti wrote citing sources in e-companies and an undisclosed federal official.

According to the publication, the initiative belongs to the Russian Security Council and involves Roskomnadzor and Media Communication Union that unites the biggest network providers. The information has not yet been confirmed officially.

According to the bill, anonymizers and VPN services will be required to block access to resources from Roskomnadzor black list. Besides, it is proposed to prohibit search engines from giving links to the banned content. Violation of this requirement would result in a fine of 700 thousand rubles ($12.400)." - Crime Russia
otf  russia  vpn  access  circumvention  policy  duma  Roskomnadzor  putin  tor 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Anomalous keys in Tor relays #research
"In its more than ten years of existence, the Tor network has seen hundreds of thousands of relays come and go. Each relay maintains several RSA keys, amounting to millions of keys, all archived by The Tor Project. In this paper, we analyze 3.7 million RSA public keys of Tor relays. We (i) check if any relays share prime factors or moduli, (ii) identify relays that use non-standard exponents, and (iii) characterize malicious relays that we discovered in the first two steps. Our experiments revealed that ten relays shared moduli, and 3,557 relays—almost all part of a research project— shared prime factors, allowing adversaries to reconstruct private keys. We further discovered 122 relays that used nonstandard RSA exponents, presumably in an attempt to attack onion services. By simulating how onion services are positioned in Tor’s distributed hash table, we identified four onion services that were likely targeted by these malicious relays." - George Kadianakis, Tor Project, and Claudia V. Roberts, Laura M. Roberts, and Philipp Winter, Princeton University
otf  tor  research  crypto  encryption  onion  RSA  anonymity  circumvention 
april 2017 by dmcdev
This Company Will Create Your Own Tor Hidden Service
"'People should be aware that tools like Tor exist and people shouldn't be scared of using technology such as Tor for good,' Dan Benton, who runs Dogsbody Technology, told Motherboard in an email. UK-based Dogsbody announced its offering of turn-key hidden service generation in a blog post published on Tuesday." - Joseph Cox, Motherboard
otf  tor  onion  privacy  security  circumvention 
april 2017 by dmcdev
VPN crackdown in China’s Chongqing
"[Last] week the government of Chongqing, a city of about 50 million in southwest China, made public a regulation that bans unauthorized use of internet circumvention tools in the city. While the rules came into effect in last July, details were only released this week. Anyone – from individuals to companies – who skirts China’s system of internet filters will be ordered to disconnect and receive a warning. Those who make a profit while using circumvention tools will be fined." - Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  vpn  chongqing  access  circumvention 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Tor upgrades to make anonymous publishing safer - @ConversationUS
Planned changes to Tor's onion services will mean making and maintaining a .onion site easier and a more accessible option for users. Article by Tor Project member Philipp Winter.
otf  tor  anonymity  privacy  security  onion  circumvention 
march 2017 by dmcdev
Tor Browser in numbers | The Tor Blog
Check out Tor Metrics' new visualization of Tor Browser downloads and updates: https://blog.torproject.org/blog/tor-browser-numbers
otf  tor  circumvention  metrics  access  data 
february 2017 by dmcdev
#research: Characterization of Internet censorship from multiple perspectives (pdf)
Internet censorship is rampant, both under the support of nation states and private actors, with important socio-economic and policy implications. Yet many issues around Internet censorship remain poorly understood because of the lack of adequate approaches to measure the phenomenon at scale. This thesis aims to help fill this gap by developing three methodologies to derive censorship ground truths, that are then applied to realworld datasets to study the effects of Internet censorship. These measurements are given foundation in a comprehensive taxonomy that captures the mechanics, scope, and dynamics of Internet censorship, complemented by a framework that is employed to systematize over 70 censorship resistance systems. - Sheharbano Khattak, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
otf  censorship  research  pakistan  circumvention  asia 
january 2017 by dmcdev
China tightens Great Firewall by declaring unauthorised VPN services illegal
Beijing has launched a 14-month nationwide campaign against unauthorised internet connections, including virtual private network (VPN) services, which allow users to bypass the country’s infamous “Great Firewall”...The “clean-up” of the nation’s internet connections would start immediately and run until March 31, 2018, the notice said. - Josh Ye, South China Morning Post
otf  china  asia  gfw  vpn  access  circumvention  censorship 
january 2017 by dmcdev
Making internet freedom mountains out of Chinese molehills - @AriTalking
"The primary lesson to draw from this episode is that Apple, and likely all the other large American companies with significant presences in China, are unwilling or unable to confront Beijing. This too should not surprise us. Big companies tend to be risk-averse, and the potential to have their local assets seized and local employees arrested is a very serious risk.

That said, we ought to not simply accept Chinese censorship. It is in the American interest to make outside news available to readers in China. We have many potential tools to achieve this, and we should be using them. Much of our current technology for internet anonymity was developed by government and government-funded research." - Ariel Rabkin , AEI TechPolicyDaily
otf  china  internetfreedom  policy  access  asia  apple  censorship  circumvention 
january 2017 by dmcdev
Tor at the Heart: Firefox
By lines of code, Tor Browser is mostly Firefox -- there are some modifications and some additions, but around 95% of the code in Tor Browser comes from Firefox. The Firefox and Tor Browser teams have collaborated for a long time, but in 2016, we started to take it to the next level, bringing Firefox and Tor Browser closer together than ever before. With closer collaboration, we’re enabling the Tor Browser team to do their jobs more easily, adding more privacy options for Firefox users, and making both browsers more secure. - Tor Project
otf  tor  firefox  mozilla  anonymity  circumvention  access  censorship 
january 2017 by dmcdev
Turkey blocks access to Tor anonymising network
Turkey has blocked direct access to the Tor anonymous browsing network as part of a wider crackdown on the ways people circumvent internet censorship. The crackdown began last month when Turkish ISPs were told to cut off the virtual private networks people use to hide where they go. Many people are changing the way they connect to Tor to avoid the block. Activists said the block moved Turkey's net censorship policies from "moderate" to "severe". - BBC News
otf  turkey  tor  access  privacy  anonymity  censorship  circumvention 
december 2016 by dmcdev
Tor at the Heart: Bridges and Pluggable Transports
You can use Tor to view websites that are censored or blocked. But what do you do when Tor itself is blocked? When it happens, you can use bridges and pluggable transports to get around the censors. - Tor Project explains what bridges and pluggable transports and how they help in especially restrictive environments.
otf  tor  pluggabletransport  bridge  access  censorship  circumvention 
december 2016 by dmcdev
Belarus (finally) bans Tor - @OpenObservatory
Data from OTF-supported OONI project suggests that "Tor has been finally blocked [in Belarus] in December 2016, although it had been explicitly declared that Tor should be blocked since February 2015." - OONI project
otf  tor  ooni  belarus  censorship  europe  soviet  access  circumvention 
december 2016 by dmcdev
Tor at the Heart: The Ahmia project
Ahmia is a search engine for onion sites. The Ahmia project has been around for years, and it's been collecting public onion addresses and indexing them so that users can search for the content they are looking for. Ahmia's indexing technology is improving, and the quality of the search results has gotten much better over the past year. Ahmia also provides an easy way for onion service operators to register their own onion sites with the search engine. Ahmia's onion site is here: http://msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion/ - Tor Project
otf  tor  privacy  security  access  censorship  circumvention 
december 2016 by dmcdev
Tor at the Heart: Orbot and Orfox | The Tor Blog
"During the month of December, [Tor is] highlighting other organizations and projects that rely on Tor, build on Tor, or are accomplishing their missions better because Tor exists. [Here Orbot and Orfox are highlighted]: Orbot is an app for Android that contains the core Tor service and provides connectivity to the Tor network for any app to utilize; Orfox is a web browser for Android that enables mobile phone users to have secure communications through the Tor network. - Tor Project
otf  tor  censorship  circumvention  access  orbot  orfox 
december 2016 by dmcdev
Tor Browser 6.0.7 is released
The security flaw responsible for this urgent release is already actively exploited on Windows systems. Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately. A restart is required for it to take effect. - Tor Project.

Download Tor: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html
otf  tor  access  circumvention  censorship  browser 
november 2016 by dmcdev
China’s vast Internet prison
In law and in practice, China is creating the world’s largest online thought prison. It turns the idea of the Internet as a force for freedom on its head, and as China goes, so go other tyrants. From Vietnam to Saudi Arabia, from Russia to Turkey, the age of Internet repression has blossomed. - Washington Post Editorial Board
otf  china  asia  gfw  access  censorship  circumvention 
november 2016 by dmcdev
China's internet censorship is throttling software development
"There’s a whole parallel universe over here," DC Collier, founder of Shanghai-based chatbot start-up Rikai Labs, told me back in June. "I think Chinese developers are doing development work with one hand tied behind their back." - Article by Eva Xiao, Business Standard
otf  china  asia  gfw  circumvention  access  censorship 
november 2016 by dmcdev
Examining How the Great Firewall Discovers Hidden Circumvention Servers (2015) #research
From 2015: Research identifies "...the different types of probing, develop[s] fingerprinting techniques to infer the physical structure of the system, localize[s] the sensors that trigger probing—showing that they differ from the 'Great Firewall' infrastructure—and assess[es the] probing’s efficacy in blocking different versions of Tor."
otf  gfw  china  research  circumvention  tor  access 
november 2016 by dmcdev
Turks Are Flocking to Tor After Government Orders Block of Anti-Censorship Tools
Usage of Tor inside of Turkey went up from around 18,000 users to 25,000 users on Friday, when the government started blocking the popular social media networks, according to Tor’s official metrics. To prevent Turks from doing exactly that and connecting to the blocked sites through censorship-circumvention tools such as Tor and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), the government took a step further and ordered internet providers to block those too...But Tor offers an alternative method of connection precisely made for cases like this, called “bridge relays” or simply bridges. These make it harder for internet providers to know you’re using Tor, making it also harder, in turn, to stop you from using it. Usage of Tor bridges has shoot up in the last few days in Turkey, according to Tor’s metrics. - LORENZO FRANCESCHI-BICCHIERAI, Motherboard
otf  turkey  tor  access  circumvention  censorship  vpn 
november 2016 by dmcdev
Turkey Doubles Down on Censorship With Block on VPNs, Tor | Motherboard
On Friday, the Turkish information technologies and communications authority, or BTK, ordered internet providers in the country to block Tor and several other censorship-circumvention Virtual Private Networks or VPNs, such as VPN Master, Hotspot Shield, Psiphon, Zenmate, TunnelBear, Zero, Vypr, Express, according to multiple local reports. - LORENZO FRANCESCHI-BICCHIERAI, Motherboard
otf  turkey  access  vpn  censorship  tor  blackout  circumvention 
november 2016 by dmcdev
Tor: The smart person's guide - TechRepublic
What is Tor, why it matters, who it helps, and how it actually works. Article by Dan Patterson, TechRepublic
otf  tor  anonymity  privacy  security  awareness  browser  circumvention  censorship 
november 2016 by dmcdev
Leaked Xinjiang Police Report Describes Circumvention Tools as ‘Terrorist Software’ - Global Voices Advocacy
A police report leaked last week from China's Xinjiang province describes Internet censorship circumvention tools as “second class violent and terrorist software.” - Oiwan Lam, Global Voices Advocacy
otf  china  xinjiang  uyghur  circumvention  asia  access  tool  vpn  GFW 
october 2016 by dmcdev
Access ≠ Subversion - @BBGgov
Access to news and information does not equate to subversion. Rather, it is the lifeblood of an informed citizenry. The democratizing power of the internet, and the access it offers to join in the global conversation, empowers citizens to grow socially, economically and politically.

We know from the letters, emails and SMS messages that [the Office of Cuba Broadcasting] receives every day that many Cubans are eager to join the wired global community. And we look forward to it, too. - John F. Lansing, Chief Executive Officer and Director, BBG
otf  bbg  cuba  access  censorship  circumvention  ocb  news 
october 2016 by dmcdev
Research: How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information
Conventional wisdom assumes that increased censorship will strictly decrease access to information. We delineate circumstances when increases in censorship will instead expand access to information...We illustrate this phenomenon using millions of individual-level, real-time actions of social media users in China before and after the block of the popular social networking website Instagram. - William Hobbs and Margaret E. Roberts
otf  china  censorship  social  instagram  access  VPN  circumvention  selfie 
october 2016 by dmcdev
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