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Censorship The Internet United States Government News

US Tests System To Evade Foreign Web Censorship 219

D1gital_Prob3 excerpts from a Reuters story that says "The US government is covertly testing technology in China and Iran that lets residents break through screens set up by their governments to limit access to news on the Internet. The 'feed over email' (FOE) system delivers news, podcasts and data via technology that evades web-screening protocols of restrictive regimes, said Ken Berman, head of IT at the US government's Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is testing the system. The news feeds are sent through email accounts including those operated by Google, Microsoft's Hotmail, and Yahoo. 'We have people testing it in China and Iran,' said Berman, whose agency runs Voice of America. He provided few details on the new system, which is in the early stages of testing. He said some secrecy was important to avoid detection by the two governments."
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US Tests System To Evade Foreign Web Censorship

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  • by xizhi.zhu ( 1499631 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:46AM (#29064215) Homepage
    For a real success, they should be runnable for all email accounts, not only those using Gmail, etc. The reason is that China or Iran may simply block those providers (and it's true that China has blocked several services of Google). Also, encryption is needed, as China now filters all the traffic, including SMTP, POP3, IMAP. Moreover, it should be quite easy for the end users.
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:48AM (#29064247)
    How will this NOT lead to governments banning email from foreign countries

    (That's foreign to them)
    All this will achieve is even greater restrictions, until ultimately countries' censors will be operating entirely autonomous, independent, local versions of what was once referred to as The World Wide Web and just so that they can put their version of the facts in front of a small minority of people in other countries who might just care.

  • Symmetry ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:49AM (#29064255)

    Disclaimer: I'm not a US citizen (and my English is terrible).

    So the US govt is providing ways for foreign citizens to access content that is considered illegal in their countries...
    What would be the US govt reaction if some other country provides a way for US citizens to access content that is illegal in the US ?

  • Re:Right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gclef ( 96311 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:55AM (#29064303)

    Well, they presented it just a couple weeks ago at DefCon [], so apparently their right hand isn't quite on speaking terms with their left hand. There were some...pointed questions from the DefCon crowd, though, which they didn't have good answers for. One big concern for me, which I didn't see them address well: how do you bootstrap this? (Ie, why not just block downloads of the application itself, or arrest everyone who does download it?)

  • Re:I'm confused here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:59AM (#29064955)

    I support "free speech zones". If my city is hosting a political convention or some other controversial event, the last thing I want is a bunch of people shutting down the city services in "protest". They are free to organize their own little event and pay for the city services if they wish. "Free speech" doesn't mean "act like a douche".

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:41AM (#29065509) Journal

    Why is it important to spend taxpayer money adding a porn filter to such a scheme, when most US taxpayers undoubtedly don't care whether or not people abroad watch porn, and when it will, as has been shown in the past, block access to legitimate sites that are highly relevant to people being denied Internet access across the world?

    Because if you let people use it as a proxy to surf porn they will consume all of the available resources/bandwidth and it will become as useless as TOR currently is?

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:01AM (#29065793)

    Don't take your mouth too full - I think the current American government is way too bright to actively engage in that kind of nonsense. The Voice of America may be a broadcaster paid for by American public funds, but that hardly makes it "the government".

    Another thing is - what is so remarkable about this? Is even as advanced as wrapping html packages in another protocol? The article is sparse on technical detail, and for all I know, it could be nothing more than sending HTML emails or attaching mp3 files. To me this looks more like yet another annoying, but trivial stunt to attract a bit of attention to a non-issue.

  • Re:I'm confused here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:09AM (#29065917)

    Yes, free speech does sometimes mean you have to put up with people acting like douches.

    There are a lot of ways to act like a douche. Shutting down a city is not acceptable.

    Supporting "Free Speech Zones" means you also support "Restricted Speech Zones" which should not exist in the US.

    No, it means I support getting a permit and paying for the city services that you use.

    I agree with you regarding "distasteful" speech. Even hate speech should be protected, so long as it isn't a call to violence.

  • by j_cocaine ( 1618405 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @03:46PM (#29069927) Homepage
    This is a really good point. Another point to consider is how this benefits the U.S. government. China, in particular, has legions of "hackers" pounding at U.S. web sites all the time. There is an information war going on between the two nations every day. This technology allows the U.S. to get a foothold in to the brains of Chinese internet users, and possibly turn them pro-U.S. or at least less anti-U.S. The U.S. government is not doing it just because they think it's morally offensive that China and Iran censor Internet access.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.