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Censorship Government Politics

Iranians Outwit Censors With Falun Gong Software 171

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 BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:10PM (#27788361)

    Since the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Ayatollahs, Iran has politically regressed to a very dangerous stage. However, culturally the country is still very close to America. Despite the religiosity demanded by the mullahs, many consolations have been made to keep the populace from rioting.

    From simple things like not requiring a full hijab to really bizarre things like ultra-temporary marriages to allow single men the pleasures of prostitutes legally under Sharia. Iran is a country struggling to break back into the modern world.

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

  • by BigHungryJoe ( 737554 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:17PM (#27788493) Homepage

    Falun Gong/Falun Dafa have been brutalized by the Chinese government for years for doing nothing more than practicing a mental and physical discipline.

    They are experts in software like this because their leadership is almost certainly under constant surveillance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @12:36PM (#27788833)

    Chinese Intelligence Operative alert!

  • by lanorien ( 1056426 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:12PM (#27789473)
    Although it's true the Shah was a dictator of sorts, what the people of Iran wanted with the revolution was not an absolute theocracy. During the revolution there was a coalition of nationalists, communists, and others along with the Islamists. It just happened that the Islamists betrayed them all before the smoke even cleared and then wielded absolute power. I think anything to allow the Iranian people better access to the rest of the world is a tremendous step.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @01:59PM (#27790217)

    I doubt the terrorist plot claim hold much water in the US any more.

    No, these days you can hear the plaintive wail of "Won't someone please think of the Children" anytime someone speaks out against censorship.

    Child porn is the major excuse for excessive censorship today, but Australia proposed to block thousands of legitimate sites in the pursuit of child porn, and Minnesota wants to block gambling sites.

    Most censorship in the US is not done by the Federal Government, but rather by over zealous ISPs, Schools, and in the work-place.

    The US government is large enough that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    However, don't expect this inconsistency to last if those pushing for more censorship gain the ear of the current administration.

    That being said, I will bet you Dollars to Donunts that government censorship will arrive in the EU before it arrives in the US on any comparable scale.

    This is because, when you strip away the rhetoric, the EU is based on the notion that people can not govern themselves, and the elite must assume this burden. The US has historically espoused the concept of self government.

    How long either can be true to their founding principals is anyone's guess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @05:06PM (#27792737)

    [quote]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.[/quote]

    Germany was the largest provider of chemical weapons to Iraq for many, many years. Including during the Iran-Iraq war. As it turns out, there aren't many G20 countries that escape blame for being weapons dealers. So before you go pointing the finger solely at America, remember that there's a lot of these sons-of-bitches in your home country. Think globally, act locally.

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