Internet Censorship: A Game of Cat and Mouse

In light of Google Ideas’ uProxy tool announcement, Annenberg-Oxford 2013 alumnus Temitope Lawal reviews governments’ employment of censorship and surveillance online, and the growing efforts by internet users to circumvent these restrictions to fulfill their right to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy.

Recently, Google Ideas announced that it developed a tool called uProxy, a peer-to-peer service that allows people living under controlling regimes to bypass government censorship and surveillance software by establishing internet connections with trusted persons living in open internet states. Currently, more than 25 countries, notably China, Iran and Syria, have institutionalised different types of internet controls to restrict online speech and information access. In Iran, for example, foreign media sites are often blocked, redirected or hijacked.[i] Even with existing circumvention tools, sites such as Voice of America and Kaleme cannot be accessed within the country. China’s highly sophisticated filtering technologies, collectively known as the Great Firewall of China, also enable the practice of blocking foreign websites, blogs and social media platforms. Meanwhile the Turkish government continues to actively monitor and filter content posted on Twitter since anti-government protests in June.

Unlike other circumvention technologies, such as Ultrasurf, Tor and Phiphon, uProxy users selectively share their internet connection with trusted friends. The extension will allow two people who know each other, and are already in touch via chat or email platforms, to share their connection in a way that resembles a virtual private network (VPN). A user in Syria, for example, could…

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