Psiphon project delivers uncensored internet worldwide

Already big in parts of Asia

Software designed to circumvent government-controlled and monitored Internet access will be released Friday December 1, targeted towards delivering complete access to the Internet in countries where access is governed or monitored.

The software, psiphon, has been developed by the Citizen Lab based at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies. According to Citizen Lab documents, the software is designed to "allow citizens in uncensored countries unfettered access to the Net through their home computers to friends and family members who live behind firewalls of states that censor".

Psiphon is an open source software program using GPL (General Public Licence) and is available for both Windows and Linux.

Beta testing of the software was completed in September this year. The software works via using secure channel ports (such as Port 443) to access the Internet from a secondary IP address through an encrypted channel.

The secondary IP address is gained via contacts through an existing social network (such as a buddy list) whereby their computer is used as an Internet access point. The owner of the secondary computer, now a proxy server, can then provide others in censored countries with a unique Web address and login and password for complete Internet access.

Tom Worthington, independent IT consultant and visiting fellow in the department of computer science at the Australian National University, said unfettered and unstructured access to the Internet is not necessarily a good thing. Worthington said such access could also be the conduit for illegal activities - in some countries, according to Tom, organizing a trade union is considered illegal.

"I guess my philosophy is that Internet access should not be unfettered and freely available - I am more in the camp that says the Internet is a technology that needs to be regulated much in the way other technologies are and if you have unfettered Internet access it is the ideal channel for illegal activities," Worthington said.

"You have to keep in mind unfettered access does not mean information will not be monitored in transmission and it might be dangerous if you give people the impression their Internet surfing is not being monitored."

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