Professors at the University of Michigan have developed new software that can help many Internet users avoid the censors. As an assistant professor of computer science at the university, Alex Halderman, has had a hand in developing the new system, Telex.
Halderman, recently interviewed by Guy Raz of “All Things Considered” said, “right now, most people in censored countries connect to third-party servers outside the country to get around censorship.” Halderman continued to explain, “These machines receive connections from people inside the countries and then bounce them off to whatever censored website the user wants.” However, it’s easy for governments to identify and shut down the connecting servers.
According to Halderman, Telex will be different in that it will be able to conceal blocked sites into looking like an innocent, approved site.
Although it will take a massive effort to get this software initiated around the globe, Halderman remains optimistic that this could be an innovative program for protecting the human right to freedom of speech.
Several countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and several other Middle Eastern and Asian countries have heightened Internet censorship says Reporters Without Borders. National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported that in China, one of the most heavily censored countries, cafe’s and hotels have been ordered to supervise public Wi-Fi use or face fines and punishments. Decrees such as this have been causing an outcry in the international community, especially among those in human rights watch groups.
In November, 2010 the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Human Rights Watch hosted a series of presentations on the various human rights issues around the world. One of the main topics of the event was how the Global Network Initiative (GNI) can uphold freedom of speech, particularly on the Internet. According to their website, the GNI mission is “Protecting and Advancing Freedom of Expression and Privacy in Information and Communications Technologies.”
Image from: http://march12.rsf.org/en/
Countries in Purple are considered “Internet Enemies” and countries in Pink are on a “Watch List” according to Reporters Without Borders. The organization sponsored the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (March 2011) intending to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.
Susan Pointer, Google’s Public Policy Director was one of the featured presenters at the event. Google has been waging it’s own battle against Internet censorship, [its] primarily in China. According to NPR, the Internet mogul has been pressing U.S. and European governments to put more pressure on China to stop censoring the Internet. “Censorship, in addition to being a human-rights problem, is a trade barrier,” David Drummond, Google’s top attorney, recently told NPR.