Unblocking the internet: Haystack versus Tor Project.

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Austin Heap, a 25-year-old San Francisco software developer ... posted online instructions on how to use 'proxy servers' — such as routing an Internet request through another computer to access a blocked Web site. 'Thousands and thousands of people around the world turned their computers at home into proxy servers for people in Iran,' Heap recalled. 'Somebody had to make a more sustainable and scalable method of getting around the Iranian censorship,' he said. 'These proxy servers weren't going to cut it. We couldn't do this on a massive scale.' ... [His software] Haystack, Heap said, works on two levels. It encrypts online communication and then cloaks it to appear like normal Web traffic. Jacob Appelbaum, a San Francisco programmer with the long-time open source Tor Project, a cloaking program used by corporations and free speech activists alike, said closed systems like Haystack concern him. He said it has no peer review the way the Tor Project does, which has been created and vetted by programmers around the world over many years. 'He has not opened it up for research,' Appelbaum said. 'No one has seen a copy of his specifications. There is no way we can understand if the claims that are made (by Haystack) are true.'" John Boudreau, San Jose Mercury News, 14 February 2010. See also Reuters, 11 February 2010, as cited in previous post.
     "[R]egimes like China and Iran (and Vietnam, and others) are not unduly worried about English-language content produced in America flooding their countries, because few of their citizens can read English. ... What really worries such countries is politically independent material produced in local languages. Such countries often allow the English-language websites of, say, the BBC or Voice of America to be viewed unimpeded inside the country. It is the Mandarin-, Farsi-, and Vietnamese-language sites of such news organisations that are blocked. True, much of the politically sensitive material produced in these languages comes from diaspora communities in America and Europe. But that is precisely because these regimes crack down so hard on locally-produced political content. It's convenient for China and others to claim that cultural anti-imperialism is the reason for their curbs on internet content. If that's true, they can prove it by allowing their own citizens to post whatever they want. Don't hold your breath." M.S., Democracy in America blog, The Economist, 14 February 2010.
     "It appears that the Arabic language is virtually absent from [Google], and [Vinton] Cerf said that 'It is a widely known fact that the MENA region currently produces less than 1 percent of content online in Arabic.' Cerf said that he considered this to be 'both a challenge and an opportunity for the region to take a leap of faith and embrace the benefits of the Internet.' Cerf also described the internet as being 'an amazing tool that encourages the free flow of information, the sharing of ideas, the ability to advance businesses across geographical borders and ultimately empower more individuals in their everyday lives.'" Mohammed Nasser, Asharq Alawsat (London), 12 February 2010.