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Hacking Through Censorship

We’ve recently talked about Internet censorship in the Gulf States, and a crackdown on cybercafes in China. Western hacktivists are fighting the power:

    Western hackers are developing programs to defeat the Internet censorship barriers of repressive countries overseas — and you can take part in the effort.

    Software such as Peekabooty, Six/Four and Triangle Boy marries the peer-to-peer architecture of Napster-style file-sharing services with encryption and other stealth technology. The goal of the “hacktivists” writing these programs is to grant unrestricted Internet access to users in China, Iran and other countries whose governments use filtering or censoring software to control their Internet connection.

    All three programs need users with open Internet access to install their free software, which can channel data — encrypted to prevent eavesdropping — to the end users abroad. Think of it as the 21st-century equivalent of writing protest letters in an Amnesty International campaign.

    But the technologies to make this happen have a long way to go before they are ready. And the hacktivists face difficult tasks in creating technology that won’t be detected by censors, while the users they seek to liberate run the risk of criminal prosecution or worse from their governments.

    Peekabooty, although still in early state of development, may be closest to going into operation. Anybody can contribute to this open-source coding effort, but most of the work has been done by Canadian programmer Paul Baranowski and his roommate, Joe DeVilla.

    It’s supposed to work like this: Peekabooty runs in the background on your PC, awaiting requests from other Peekabooty users. When one with censored Internet access wants to see a blocked site, he uses Peekabooty to send his Web page request to the “cloud” of Peekabooty software on PCs in free countries; those machines then deliver the desired page in encrypted form. Every Peekabooty user can set the censorship status of his own PC and check that of others with a simple icon of a cartoon bear — a smiling bear means access is open, while one with a mouth taped shut indicates censorship.

    But the early version available for download (www.peek-a-booty.org) is extremely buggy and lacks the encryption feature, so any bad guys overseas could see exactly what users are trying to view.

    The other anti-censorship projects are some distance from getting running as well.

    Six/Four, a comparable peer-to-peer package being developed by the hacker and political activist organization Hacktivismo (www.hacktivismo.com), is intended to be a complete package for unfettered Internet usage, including e-mail, chat and file transfer…..

Hack on brothers.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014.Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted.Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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