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Censorship Government News

Five Technologies Iran Is Using To Censor the Net 122

Posted by kdawson
from the many-mice-and-one-big-cat dept.
alphadogg sends in a Network World piece on the unexpectedly effective technologies Iran is now employing to thwart their citizens' access to the Net. "While the government's initial efforts to censor the Internet were blunt and often ineffective, it has started employing more sophisticated tools to thwart dissidents' attempts to communicate with each other and the outside world. Iranian dissidents are not alone in their struggle, however, as several sympathetic hacker groups have been working to keep them online. One such group is NedaNet, whose mission is to 'help the Iranian people by setting up networks of proxy severs, anonymizers, and any other appropriate technologies that can enable them to communicate and organize.' NedaNet project coordinator Morgan Sennhauser, who has just written a paper detailing the Iranian government's latest efforts to thwart hackers (PDF), says that the government's actions have been surprisingly robust and have challenged hackers in ways that the Chinese government's efforts at censorship have not."
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Five Technologies Iran Is Using To Censor the Net

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  • Re:Don't Worry Folks (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:48PM (#28763191)

    It would be wonderful if for the first time in history a revolution took place without a war and by technology.

    I hope it leads to a precedent.

  • Yay Human Spirit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jeffliott (1558799) on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:54PM (#28763271)

    It is really awesome hear about the international collaboration of non-government, non-business entities working together to overcome tyranny. I'd like to wish those oppressors a sarcastic "good luck" in stifling the ingenuity of people all around the world. As for the Iranian people, kudos on being a continuously painful thorn in your government's side.

  • technical assistance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:58PM (#28763313) Journal
    And who is providing the Iranian government with the technical know-how to implement these censoring measures?

    Is it private consultants? Is it foreign governments?

    Is there sufficient know-how within Iran's pro-government citizenship to effect the censorship?

    I'm very curious who, if anyone, is helping Iran's government do this. Because I do control a decent amount of spending, and I'd like to know if there's anyone I do business with that I should think twice about renewing contracts with. I'd be disappointed, and more than a bit shocked, if any of my suppliers are helping Iran do this. But there is precedent [ibmandtheholocaust.com]. And my (and my employer's) dollars can speak a lot louder than this comment.
  • No business (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zhilla2 (1586095) on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:58PM (#28763319)

    "China has several gigabytes per second of traffic to deal with and has a lot more international businesses," he says. "They can't be as heavy-handed with their filtration. The Iranians aren't as concerned about that⦠so they get to use all these fancy toys that, if the Chinese used them, could cripple their economy."

    I myself ordered Chinese products from sites using SSL. I don't think even they would be crazy enough to turn down money - but it seems Iran's leaders are. Are they going North Korea style? At least Chinese have a positive side to their repressive government. They have the money, they'll transform that to power and influence. Iran's policy is VERY bad for business - who seem to really WANT their people to be poor and unemployed. Which also leads to emigration of smart, competent and anybody willing to work. So yes, killing protesters and having a idiotic clerical fascistic system will make Iran poor and irrelevant in time. Countries with saner systems will benefit from importing their disgruntled intellectual elite - because smart people might be more tolerant by average, but also have lower tolerance for being served hypocritical crap.

  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:59PM (#28763331) Homepage Journal

    If there exists any means of communication that is not blocked, that means can be subverted to support every form of communication. As a result, any partial technological block will inevitably be defeated.

    The alternative to censorship is self-censorship - alter society such that it no longer wants to communicate in such-and-such a form, or to transmit such-and-such information. This has mixed results. Certainly, China and Iran haven't done well in convincing their citizens not to communicate with the outside world. On the other hand, the Pitcairn Islanders are not exactly broadcasting the facts behind the crimes of the power-brokers there.

    I guess the difference is that all the Pitcairn Islanders are, to some extent, guilty of the crimes that only a handful were actually convicted for, and talking could lead to their conviction as well. On the other hand, dissidents in Iran and China don't see themselves as guilty of the crimes of their leadership and so have no need to protect themselves.

    (One wonders how many other people have been silent of things they should have spoken up over, to avoid being convicted. It's a part of the censorship debate that IS important, as it is the only part that cannot be technologically circumvented. Well, not until mind-reading machines have been developed.)

    In a way, I guess the Iranian censorship technology is a good thing, in that it seems to be pressing the technologists more, forcing them to come up with cleverer solutions. It's good for the mind and may, someday, lead to Iranian inventors and innovators gaining some clout in the world. Adverse conditions tend to produce some brilliant minds.

  • Interesting Name (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:00PM (#28763339) Journal

    In the 90's, Iran's principal start-up ISP was called neda.net

    I can see why the new effort is named after the late Ms. Soltani. Still a coincidence of note.

    Iran's gateway out - due to embargo issues - used to be a pair of 9600 Bps USR HST modems, located in Austria. That changed around '95.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:21PM (#28763537)

    And what if they're using *gasp* linux. A local coffee shop I frequent use many of the same techniques to try to stop people from downloading torrent files after getting a couple infringement notices. They do it via a Gentoo linux box and off the shelf FOSS tools. They don't do the DPI or SPI, but everything else, such as QoS, blocking ports, and IP blocks they do and it doesn't take a super consultant to set it up. I know the kid who set up this box. He's knows enough to do it, but isn't any type of super genius.

    Can you get around the blocks here at the shop? Yes, but only if you know what you're doing. I can do it. I know a couple others who can as well, but 95% of the people sipping coffee around me don't have a clue. And it's enough to thwart the average attempt to use services like limewire and Bit Torrent.

  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:51PM (#28763815) Journal
    >The alternative to censorship is self-censorship

    The Iranian, Farsi speaking people have a complex and fascinating history. Farsi, like English, is an Indo-European language, and, the Persian Empire could be said to be the catalyst driving the birth of Europe. The Spartan and Athenian alliance bringing the victory of the Persian Wars was thought by the Greeks to be caused by the Gods as the Persians were seen as Asians and, it was thought, the Gods would never allow one people to rule both Europe and Asia. The matter grows complex as Alexander Hellenized the Persian world. Although in Persia lower caste people would abase themselves before someone seen to be a superior, but the Greeks only bowed to a God and thus the Persian custom was seen as Alexander elevating himself to the ranks of the Gods. But for my money the big fillip was introduced, perhaps by the Jews, when sin was passed from the King to the people. Some ancient civilizations were known to have beaten the statues of Gods when things went wrong and, further down the road, Kings and priests were punished when things went wrong as it was thought they were custodians and servants of the Gods and thus responsible if the Gods should be made angry. Some tyrant, somewhere, came up with the truly remarkable idea that if sin was ascribed to the people s/he ruled, then, if the Gods punished the people it was the peoples fault. This ascription of sin to the populous was one of the neatest tricks a ruling elite ever effected on an enslaved population. I think all western theocracies are supported by this central idea, that each person is born into sin and is a sinner and thus accountable for anything and everything that goes wrong.

    We're creatures of context and our ideologies are drawn from and enforced by the symbols that surround us. From this it follow that freedom of speech is fundamental to democracy and personal growth. If Iran is to grow and the Iranian people free themselves, then they must always have available to them the symbols of freedom.

    Just my loose change, btw "hello", a decade or so ago we exchanged what I enjoyed as some interesting posts here when I was new to Linux and /., but that was another incarnation.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Monday July 20, 2009 @06:52PM (#28763843)

    And who supplies the FBI and NSA's intercept software and hardware for all their warrentless wiretaps?

    the Iranian country is small for internet access, and they have carefully controlled it from the beginning. The trick here is the no one can actually say anything as the same hardware and software is even used for LEGAL wiretaps by just about everybody. What is needed is for someone to make a second Internet and trick the world into using it before governemetns realize they can't control it.

  • Re:No business (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:02PM (#28764913)

    So yes, killing protesters and having a idiotic clerical fascistic system will make Iran poor and irrelevant in time.

    As someone who fled for exactly those reasons, I fully agree with whole of your comment, except that little bit about a clerical fascistic system.

    The recent "election" (read coup) was the beginning of transformation of Iran from a theocratic oligarchy into a military dictatorship. Otensibly, Khamenei and a few select clerics hold some power, but in reality, revolutionary guards' commanders are ruling the country. The absence of the traditional flood of congratulations from religious centers of Qom to new "president", along with the direct and open complaints from high-ranking Ayatollahs is a sign that the religious body does not support this transformation. Some like Sanei and maybe Montazeri for good reasons, and the rest, most prominently Rafsanjani, only because they know their end has come.

    In the upcoming months, expect the anti-Israel tone to calm down and negotiations will to be held with US on nuclear (and only nuclear, not human rights) issue. Support for Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. will continue as a guarantee for Iranian leaders just in case there's trouble. However, they will become less and less radical. All this in exchange for securing regime's future. In the end, if things go as they are now, the only losers will be the people of Iran and that is why people are protesting. Posting anonymously, for obvious reasons.

  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @02:57AM (#28766907)

    "I'm all in favor of accountability. I'd like to think the press would be competent enough to figure do some serious investigation of this and that the US government would make sure any companies involved were exposed as such to the public as well as subjected to punishments for doing business there (at least being unavailable for US contracts for a few years)"

    The problem with this is that the US government doesn't do it fairly.

    Look at the Senators who complained about Nokia/Siemens selling stuff to Iran under the guise that they care about how the technology maybe infringing people's freedoms there, yet fail to realise Cisco and many other US tech companies are selling exactly the same type of kit for exactly the same reasons to China.

    All that will happen is the investigation will try to dent foreign companies whilst ignoring equally immoral sales and actions by US companies - look how they handled (or rather, didn't handle) Halliburton and it's abuses in Iraq, putting even US contractors lives in danger for no reason other than to get another invoice for the US tax payers to pay for example.

    That's just the start of it though, because if the US does do it that way, which ultimately they will (they tried to be difficult about BAE, a major British arms manufacturer supposedly paying bribes to Saudi to get contracts, whilst again, ignoring the fact US companies do the exact same things), eventually other areas will respond - Europe will impose sanctions against US companies whilst favouring European companies like Nokia/Siemens for example and the whole thing will just turn into a protectionist farce.

    That's not to say I disagree with your point, accountability would be great, but I don't see how it'd happen without being sidelined for alternative political purposes as it is already with the senators who complained about Nokia/Siemens. The problem is that the US has trade embargos on the likes of Iran, North Korea and Burma to make itself look like the great moral defender, and like it can complain when other nations sell to these, whilst simultaneously not having sanctions on equally cruel repressive regimes like China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and so on.

    Accountability can only ever work if it's done in a fair manner, a good example of an international system that attempts to bring accountability is the ICC thanks to peple like Luis-Moreno Ocampo, but even they're faced with countries like China and nations like many of those in Africa pulling out excuses as to why they shouldn't support it, when the reality is merely alternate vested political interests.

  • No, YOU wait., (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @07:00AM (#28768139) Homepage Journal

    iran itself didnt directly attack any other country, but have been perpetrating civil wars in half of the neighboring countries through funding, training extremist groups. they use lebanese hezbollah as a police force in iran even. it has become THAT institutionalized. iran is basically one of the two sides in the lebanese civil war that lasted for around 30 years, through hezbollah. and now, in palestine, they are a party through hamas. in iraq they have been funding and directing shiites. a considerable portion of deaths in iran are due to those. even in turkey they funded terrorist groups, and killed many people.

    please, dont SHIT online without knowing enough about what you are going to shit about.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -- John Wooden

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