Monday, February 13, 2006

Comment on news item "Scaling the firewall of digital censorship," published in Globe and Mail February 13, 2006, p. A1

Mr. Deibert and his team show very noble and highly commendable intentions with the development of the Psiphon software designed to defeat the Chinese firewall. But it is unlikely to achieve its purpose of freeing Chinese to surf the web unhindered. Most people in China who want to read censored materials already use services that offer constantly changing proxy server IP addresses. So far there is little evidence that the Chinese police have been pressing charges on the small numbers of people in China who dare to use these services. But Mr. Deibert's method involves establishing a sustaining relationship with someone outside China for the purpose of evading the Chinese Government's official censorship. Collaborating with foreigners in this way would be deemed a very serious crime by the Chinese authorities. The Chinese user would always be leery of assurances that the Psiphon is undetectable by the Chinese internet police. Because it exposes them to the possibility of trumped up charges of espionage, the prospects of the software "taking off" in China at this time are unfortunately very unlikely. I am sorry to be the bearer of this bad news.

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