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Censorship Government Politics

Iranians Outwit Censors With Falun Gong Software 171

Posted by kdawson
from the routing-around-it dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that since last year more than 400,000 Iranians began surfing the uncensored Web using software created for the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that has been suppressed by the Chinese government since 1999. More than 20 countries now use increasingly sophisticated blocking and filtering systems for Internet content, according to Reporters Without Borders, including Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The creators of the software seized upon by Iranians are members of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, based largely in the United States and closely affiliated with Falun Gong. Interestingly enough, the United States government and the Voice of America have financed some of the circumvention technology efforts, and a coalition is organizing to push for more Congressional financing of anti-filtering efforts, bringing together dissidents of Vietnam, Iran, the Uighur minority of China, Tibet, Myanmar, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, as well as the Falun Gong, to lobby Congress for the financing. 'What is our leverage toward a country like Iran? Very little,' said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. 'Suppose we have the capacity to make it possible for the president of the United States at will to communicate with hundreds of thousands of Iranians at no risk or limited risk? It just changes the world.'"
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Iranians Outwit Censors With Falun Gong Software

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  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:07PM (#27788287)

    Hopefully the citizens of Britain and Australia and Germany can get a hold of this software so that they can use the Internet without government censorship impeding them.

  • As Always (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechForensics (944258) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:08PM (#27788297) Homepage Journal

    "The internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it". People can do so too.

  • by azgard (461476) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:14PM (#27788423)

    Look at the military industry for example. There is a large market for guns, shells and missiles on one side, and also large market for bulletproof vests, armour and missile defense on the other side.

    This is a similar situation. Especially the makers of internet filtering software, such as Cisco, should take note of this emerging market opportunity.

    So, we should really keep the markets do their own thing, and the economy will grow and prosper.

  • Voice of America started as a radio network for broadcasting news that shows a different point of view from that by censors in the old Soviet Bloc.

    This just seems a continuation of the same mission.

  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:21PM (#27788561)

    In the same way that an object does not "want" to fall when it is dropped, or a species does not "want" to evolve.

    But it will, regardless, simply because that is its natural state.

  • Cyber attack? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredog (43288) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:22PM (#27788565) Journal

    Interestingly enough, the United States government and the Voice of America have financed some of the circumvention technology efforts,

    Would that count as a cyber attack on Iran or China?

  • by JimMcc (31079) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:23PM (#27788589) Homepage

    First, I'll state that I support this, worldwide.

    That said, I find it a bit whacked that on one hand we have part of our government demanding filtering and selective blocking of websites in public locations and schools. While at the same time a different part of our government is supporting and funding software to bypass filtering and blocking.

    Maybe we should drop the Politically Correct filtering efforts and quit wasting everybody's money. After all, isn't that what our government seems to be saying to other countries? Or is it just our country and our allies that are allowed to filter? Come on USA, get your story straight.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:26PM (#27788639)

    Information does not "want" to be free.

    It's more like information has a tendency to diffuse like a gas. It's hard to keep information bottled up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:30PM (#27788723)

    >

    So, we should really keep the markets do their own thing, and the economy will grow and prosper.

    Except we end up creating useless products without a point, instead of using those resources for something that might be helpful.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:33PM (#27788769)
    Suppose we have the capacity to make it possible for the president of the United States at will to communicate with hundreds of thousands of Iranians at no risk or limited risk? It just changes the world. You're assuming those thousands of Iranians would actually want to download messages from Obama, rather than downloading porn. As a general rule, the more repressed people's public lives are, the more sleazy their secret, private lives become. Iran has a huge surplus of educated but unemployed young men. I suspect that "free porn" is pretty high on their list of motivations for defeating filters, while "hearing what Obama has to say" is pretty low. Especially given that Obama doesn't speak Farsi. Porn is universal, it needs no translation. When was the last time you saw a foreign language porn flick with subtitles? One doesn't really need to understand the language to follow the plot line in a porn flick. And their stage direction is mostly just:
    In!
    Out.
    In!
    Out.
    In!
    Out.
    In!
    Out.
    Actor 1 moans...
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:35PM (#27788815)

    'Suppose we have the capacity to make it possible for the president of the United States at will to communicate with hundreds of thousands of Iranians at no risk or limited risk?

    For what purpose? So he can apologize?

  • by quantax (12175) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:37PM (#27788851) Homepage
    Not to defend the current theocrats, but you do realize Shah was a dictator and already "politically regressed to a very dangerous stage" which is why the revolution happened. The current government is learning that that fever of the revolution has died and people just want to live their lives. The progress will be slow but I have confidence Iranians will increasingly reject the cultural neanderthals within their current government.
  • by denelson83 (841254) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:40PM (#27788901)
    ...in North Korea, where the Internet is simply prohibited altogether.
  • by Xtravar (725372) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:43PM (#27788951) Homepage Journal

    It makes perfect sense.

    We blow up foreign infrastructure only to rebuild it.

    We give tax breaks while simultaneously starting new spending programs.

    We fight poppy growers, who fund terrorism, while simultaneously sustaining an artificially expensive black market for drugs. In a sense, we're both funding and fighting terrorism.

    So there's absolutely nothing inconsistent about our behavior here.

  • by MrMarket (983874) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:46PM (#27788995) Journal

    The faster we can get a strong secular leader in power there, the better the odds of Iran returning to the peaceful international fold.

    Hopefully the "we" is you and your fellow Iranians (wonder if /. can be read in Iran). We (as in the rest of the world) have countless examples why we should not be in the business of installing our favorite "leaders" at the heads of unstable governments. Supporting means for people to criticize, mobilize, and install a leader that meets their best interests (as determined by them, not outsiders) may take longer, but ultimately results in a more stable society.

  • Radio free world (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:51PM (#27789083) Homepage Journal

    It's funny how certain kinds of people praise the defiance of authority like this but admonish those who defeat filters in school to access controversial information. They force their public schools and libraries to install buggy censorware which has been demonstrated time and time again to block legitimate but incorrectly categorized information.

    Heck, the Australian and German governments filter their entire countries, for ostentatious "think of the children" reasons, but all it takes is a flip of a switch for it to go political. Neither country historically has much of a problem with certain kinds of political censorship.

    How long ago was it that we had Republicans telling us to watch what we say?

    We need a pan-national dedication to transparency and the free flow of information. The people who scream about Iranian and Chinese injustice the loudest are also some of the worst censors at home. The free world won't be until we hold our own people accountable.

  • by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:01PM (#27789283)
    Heck, It would be prudent for everyone to keep a copy around just in case...
  • by eean (177028) <slashdot.monroe@nu> on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:06PM (#27789385) Homepage

    I seriously doubt the Iranians censor much in the way of non-pornographic English material.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:17PM (#27789545)

    No, to apologize for blowhards like you

    2-3M Iranians died in the Iran-Iraq proxy war, where American chemical weapons were used and even encouraged, and that served no real purpose except to make arms manufacturers richer. Heck, they were even selling weapons to both sides to "sweeten the pot". It had nothing to do with Islam, or the Soviets : only profit.

    Any excuse will do! When people are no longer afraid of jihadists, the powers that be will figure out some new scare tactic to bring the sheep on board for another military adventure, probably invading some other defenseless country like Afghanistan or Iraq. Bunch of COWARDS.

    Your entire country should be put on trial. Voting for such Presidents again and again makes you responsible. Yes, even people who didn't vote for Bush are responsible for his actions. When your country invades another and kills hundreds of thousands of people -- FOR PROFIT, you all deserve sanctions for allowing it to happen, and shielding those responsible.

  • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:34PM (#27789829)

    The progress will be slow but I have confidence Americans will increasingly reject the Republicans within their current government.

    There. Fixed that for you. Yes, yes. I know that there are more countries in "America" than the U.S., but everybody still calls us Americans. The point is that one has to be struck by the similarity of two groups of culturally conservative old men who have become dangerously out of touch with the world they live in. Both are becoming marginalized as a result. Just sayin'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:50PM (#27790079)

    Are you serious? That sounds modern to you? How about women who want to fulfil their sexual desires - do they get to visit male escorts under this one-minute-marriage rule? I somehow doubt it. And not requiring a full hijab !=freedom either. You are gullibly swallowing the idea that a relaxation of draconian rules is a sign of progress. It's not. It's a sign that cynical leaders are prepared to give the masses a few sops so that there will never be enough popular support for real change. Only when the populace do riot will Iran have a hope of being dragged into what you call "the modern world".

    Stupid parent. Your baby takes a couple of wobbly steps before falling on his chubby little ass and that looks like walking to you?

  • by mrops (927562) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:55PM (#27790177)

    Well, you got it all wrong.

    UK, Australia and Germany are doing it for the good of the people, if the government wouldn't protect them, then who will?

    China and Iran on the other hand are suppressing freedom and liberty.

    Will someone think of the children!

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:20PM (#27790527)

    Yes, even people who didn't vote for Bush are responsible for his actions.

    Oh, that makes sense. I suppose you should be charged for murder, because I'm sure one happened.. and you're responsible for your government NOT protecting its citizens.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 01, 2009 @02:38PM (#27790835) Homepage

    "I'm sorry we didn't prevent the Islamic revolution in 1979... ... by not overthrowing your democratic government in 1953."

    I agree, that would be a nice place to start.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @03:38PM (#27791669)

    Your entire country should be put on trial. Voting for such Presidents again and again makes you responsible. Yes, even people who didn't vote for Bush are responsible for his actions. When your country invades another and kills hundreds of thousands of people -- FOR PROFIT, you all deserve sanctions for allowing it to happen, and shielding those responsible.

    Collective blame is a substitute for thinking.

  • by bar-agent (698856) on Friday May 01, 2009 @04:44PM (#27792477)

    It's funny how certain kinds of people praise the defiance of authority like this but admonish those who defeat filters in school to access controversial information. They force their public schools and libraries to install buggy censorware which has been demonstrated time and time again to block legitimate but incorrectly categorized information.

    It's a damn shame that the press doesn't call out hypocritical policies. I know why, of course. If a reporter asks too many awkward questions, he isn't invited to the next press conference. But still, a damn shame.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @05:40PM (#27793077)

    How is this insightful? The poster is claiming that everybody in a country is guilty by proxy, or by association. This is no different than the Islamic fundamentalists bitching about every single American, and every Christian fundamentalist bitching about every single atheist.

    So, whatever your neighbor did today, you are responsible for.

    How exactly is this insightful?

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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