As we all know, there is no internet censorship in China. However, if you’ve attempted to access one of the estimated 19,032 websites that are inaccessible in China, then you may have experienced some frustration to that end. It’s not simply those of you who have been deemed a cultist, separatists, splittist, or attempt to read illicit material from rogue, upstart news organizations, but China’s filtration system is a dynamic, evolving beast that smothers forbidden material faster than Prozac.
What keeps China in a league with such informational blackholes as Yemen, Belarus, Tunisia, Burma (Myanmar), Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia is a hive of 30,000 Internet Police and the infamous Great Firewall of China, which has been known to block offending websites within hours of a violation. In July of this year, a group of researchers at the University of Cambridge released a paper entitled “Ignoring the Great Firewall of China,” which details the inner workings of the Great Firewall and describes a method for circumventing it.
Now, however, a group of Canadian internet experts working under the Psiphon project run by the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto and funded by George Soro’s Open Society Institute, has created software that will, according to the project website, allow users “in uncensored countries to provide unfettered access to the Net through their home computers to friends and family members who live behind firewalls of states that censor.”
The project’s website has a Flash illustration of how Psiphon works and provides the following description:
psiphon acts as a “web proxy” for authenticated psiphonites, retrieving requested web pages and displaying them in a user’s browser. psiphon uses a secure, encrypted connection to receive web requests from the psiphonite to the psiphonode who then transports the results back to the psiphonite. There is no connection between the psiphonite and the requested website, as psiphon transparently proxies the request through the psiphonode’s computer allowing the psiphonite to browse blocked websites seamlessly.