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Censorship Encryption The Internet

Getting Around Web Censors With Flickr 81

An anonymous reader writes "Life is about to become more difficult for countries trying to censor access to foreign websites. A system dubbed Collage will allow users in these countries to download stories from blocked sites while visiting seemingly uncontroversial sites such as Flickr." For visual learners: this earlier story at GigaOM explains the system with a diagram.
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Getting Around Web Censors With Flickr

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Sunday August 15, 2010 @10:55AM (#33256808) Homepage Journal

    Countries which censor the Internet will have no problem labelling this as a "subversion tool" (or something similar) and make possession of it a crime.

    sad but true.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 15, 2010 @11:08AM (#33256858)

    This will just get sites like Flickr banned in places like China, Iran, or Australia; and nothing else will change

  • bottleneck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnhp ( 1807490 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @11:09AM (#33256864)
    How does pushing content through a few major sites help spread it in censored areas? It seems like an authoritarian government could ban a few major websites more easily than hundreds of smaller ones.

    Maybe a torrent-like web server would be best for sharing censored information, where trusted web servers in free countries are the only uploaders on the network.
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @11:23AM (#33256918)


    Right now, youtube, facebook, twitter and other "web 2.0" type user generated content sites are precisely the sites that are being blocked, for exactly this reason. Compared to Youtube and Facebook, blocking flickr will cause absolutely no backlash at all. If you want flickr to be blocked in China, then you're going about it the right way by publishing this story.

    Also, covert channels through tunnelling is already working quite well, there are many, many technologies to do this, of which steganography is only one. This achieves nothing but causing suspicion towards the remaining user generated content sites that are not blocked. Steganography is security through obscurity by definition, this only works if you keep it a secret. It it astounding how many well meaning idiots love freedom so much that they decide to utilise their freedom of speech by blurting out something stupid and causing trouble for a lot of other, innocent people without those freedoms.

  • by John Pfeiffer ( 454131 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @11:53AM (#33257026) Homepage

    I had a nice chuckle when I read in TFA that this 'normally requires specialist software', when I've embedded .zip files in .jpg images using the DOS copy command. This should not be rocket surgery, even for non-savvy folks. It's really like 1+1=2, really.

  • Re:bottleneck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @02:59PM (#33257956)
    Or, a repressive government could ban the tool itself, and imprison anyone who possesses it. Why would a repressive government have a problem making possession a crime?
  • by internettoughguy ( 1478741 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @08:35PM (#33259738)

    flickr is already blocked in China.

    After this many years of trying, I've found that all publicly known methods of circumventing censorship do not last, no matter how promising the technique may seem at first. There are (were) online forums where people would share SOCKS and HTTP proxies they find or own, but nowadays these gets blocked faster than you can post it. The only reliable solution I've found is to buy your own commercial VPN service and keep it to yourself. I rent a VM host in California and run OpenVPN which I share with some of my friends. We get pretty decent connection speeds here in China, and it's actually pretty cheap even by us third-world standards, especially if you share the cost among a few people.

    The only long term fix to this problem is, of course, to replace the communist (more like fascist nowadays) regime with a democratic government, which is an endeavor that may take a few more decades. In the meantime, I suggest buying a VPN service as a temporary workaround.

    A third option is for already democratic countries to reduce immigration restrictions, and have China's best and brightest vote with their feet.

  • by perplexify ( 1878786 ) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @09:14PM (#33259914)
    It's funny (in a sad, ironic kind of way) because Australia (one of the most 'free' countries in the world) is getting lumped in with China and Iran (two of the least 'free') due to a moron senator by the name of conroy who wants to censor our internet. I doubt they'd get away with banning Flikr in Australia so it would actually be a geniune circumvention here which makes the whole filtering thing completely pointless. Of course conroy would has an almost superhuman ability to ignore the facts. Hurray for democracy.
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @03:03AM (#33261374)
    As of 2010-08-16 15:00 Beijing time, flickr is not blocked. Sounds like you were being fed a line by a lazy customer service rep. Apathetic handling of refunds transcends nationality, race, colour or creed.

Forty two.