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Do you live in a country that censors the Internet? And do you have friends who don't live behind the same walls? Psiphon, a software tool developed by the University of Toronto, might be just what you need.

Psiphon lets people in a country that censors the Internet connect to a server that gives them secure access to web pages anywhere, bypassing government restrictions. And it's free.

Psiphon operates through networks of trust. Psiphon providers, people in uncensored countries, download free software to run a psiphon server ("psiphonode") on their home computer. They then pass on connection information to friends, family or colleagues in censored countries - "psiphonites"- who login through a web browser and surf the web without any restrictions. When you use psiphon, your government and/or ISP can only see that you connected to another computer, not the sites you visit.

And because each psiphon node is private, encrypted, and separate from each other, the system as a whole is near impossible for authorities to discover and block.

"Psiphon aims to restore the original promise the Internet once held out as a forum for free expression and access to information," says Ron Deibert, director of the psiphon project and the CitizenLab, a research facility at the University of Toronto that examines the relationship between digital media and politics around the world.

Of special note is the upcoming Olympic Games in China, a country that operates one of the world's most pervasive Internet censorship regimes.

"Thousands of journalists are going to descend on China and into a tightly controlled and heavily filtered Internet environment," says Michael Hull, one of the brains behind psiphon. "We are working with a number of major media organisations to provide solutions for their journalists, who will need a secure, reliable way to access an unfettered web."

The software has won France's NetXplorateur of the Year Grand Prix award for being "the world's most original, significant and exemplary net and digital initiative." Psiphon was also named one of the "Six Ideas to Change the World" by "Esquire" magazine in December, and one of the 50 companies to watch for in 2007 by "Fast Company" magazine.

Meanwhile, "Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering", a book by OpenNet Initiative, a collaborative partnership of four academic institutions including the Citizen Lab, has just been published. "Access Denied" documents Internet filtering practices in 40 countries and analyses how and why various governments deny their own people access to information.

Download the psiphon software from the psiphon website:

Buy "Access Denied" at

About the Citizen Lab:

(4 March 2008)

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