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Summary:

As the controversy surrounding Google’s standoff with China continues, it’s easy to forget that many countries have closed Internet policies. While potential punishments can be severe, there are people and organizations around the world who circumvent censorship. Here are some of the free resources they use.

As the controversy surrounding Google’s standoff with China continues, it’s easy to forget that China is far from the only country with closed, claustrophobic Internet policies. While they risk substantial punishments in many cases, there are people and organizations around the world who circumvent these policies with tools designed for anonymous Net usage.

Sesawe.net is a portal that caters to folks seeking ways to anonymize their Internet usage through free proxy servers and other tools. Visitors to the site can display information in many languages via a toolbar atop Sesawe.net’s home page, as seen below:


Down the right rail of the Sesawe.net site, you can find links to a huge array of anonymization and proxy server tools, most of them free. Sesawe.net’s home page also links to browser- and IM-friendy implementations of Tor, one of the most widely used free and open-source applications for anonymous browsing.

FLOSSManuals, a site that collects online manuals for open-source applications, offers a free online guide to bypassing Internet censorship and closed Internet policies alike. It discusses the risks of using anonymization tools, explains proxy servers and more. The free online book “Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering” also explains in detail how Internet filtering is practiced in countries around the world, and how people and organizations circumvent closed policies. And The OpenNet initiative also delivers free material and news stories on global Internet censorship and filtering.

While the risks of anonymous Internet usage in countries with closed policies can be high, there is no shortage of free resources for circumvention available. And as countries like China proceed with closed policies, usage of them is likely to rise.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Deepjoy

  1. I’m so happy I live in a country that doesn’t censor my internet.

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    1. Yes, but they closely monitor your evey online move.

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  2. actually there are several softwares widely used by Chinese people in mainland to get around the censorship in mainland China. One is the FreeGate( http://dongtaiwang.com ), another one is Wujie( http://wujie.net ).

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    1. What keeps you from suspicion by the authorities for just going to some of these anonymizer sites? Your first click won’t be anonymous.

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      1. I suspect that most reasonably competent authoritarian regimes will have ‘troublemakers’ on a graylist somewhere anyway; that first click won’t be a surprise, but it won’t be as dangerous in and of itself as what (they rightly assume) would come later. But if they can’t prove anything, it may be harder to go through the motions. So your freedom depends on the authoritarians still caring about outside public opinion – depressingly rare.

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      2. the web site is the default first web page brought to you by running the software. you can find more information from it’s wiki page:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeGate

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  3. @jingxin, thanks for adding those two available tools.

    Sebastian

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  4. @Barbara, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. There’s absolutely no guarantee the US Internet will remain uncensored and open; too many powerful interests are making significant investments in trying to change that.

    If you want to see what could happen along that line, given a few years, come visit Singapore. There is all the difference in the world between the appearance of transparency combined with the limited reality, as opposed to a truly open, transparent society. Witness the forcible mapping of google.com to google.com.sg, and the complete unavailability of books like Brin’s “The Transparent Society,” as two relatively benign examples.

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  5. Hello,
    I live in UAE and the crappy govt has got a crappy firewall blocking stuff. We used to get around using pagemod.com web proxies.
    Didnt even know of such softwares, Is it true that it gets very very slow over these softwares?
    Hmm then maybe I prefer Web proxies even they send me new proxy updates.

    Alina

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  6. Here is a good NY Times piece about the solutions people use to climb the wall : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/16/technology/internet/16vpn.html?pagewanted=all

    Our service https://ConnectionVPN.com/ is quoted in the article.

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  7. Sesawe.net is blocked in the UAE

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