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CAT | Censorship

Google IllegalFlowerTribute1

In anticipation of possible protests in memory of the Tiananmen Square massacre 25 years ago, China has blocked access to Google search and Gmail. The censorship has been in place for a few days now, suggesting that this may be more than a short term action.

China has long blocked access to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and services which would circumvent the blocking, like Anonymizer.

Google search, and Gmail are both popular in China. It will be interesting to see if this actually draws attention to the anniversary, rather than diffusing it.

The image with this post is from 2010 when Google moved out of their China offices to avoid government control. (via Wikipedia)

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Boltcutter and chain

Turkey’s Top Court Rules YouTube Ban is Unconstitutional – WSJ

Long after the blocking of Twitter was ruled unconstitutional, they have similarly ruled that blocking YouTube over the last two months was similarly unconstitutional. The formal ruling and orders to remove the blocking should be forthcoming soon.

This decision by the country’s top court bolsters rulings by lower courts which have been ignored by the government of Prime Minister Erdogan.

All this censorship is an attempt to suppress criticism of the government generally and Erdogan and his allies specifically.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Mouth with tape BW

In the wake of the recent coup in Thailand, the new government is taking steps to suppress dissent. In addition to curfews, banning unauthorized gatherings / protests, and instructing the media not to criticize the new government, they have taken initial steps towards Internet censorship.

Facebook was blocked briefly on Wednesday by order of the Information Communications Technology Ministry. A senior ministry confirmed that the blocking was intentional, not an outage, and it had been done to slow online criticism and make it more difficult to organize and coordinate protests.

The typical pattern with censorship is for it to get stronger over time. I encourage anyone in Thailand to download the Anonymizer Universal free trial, to ensure you have a way around any of the new blocks that are likely to appear in the coming weeks.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

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Russia Map with Twitter Bird

Russia seems to have a conflicted relationship with Twitter and Internet censorship in general.

While trying to portray themselves as open and democratic, they clearly have a real problem with the radical openness of social media like Twitter.

Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of Roscomnadzor (Russia’s censorship agency), said Twitter is a “global instrument for promoting political information” and that they could block Twitter or Facebook in minutes.

Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev responded on his Facebook account, saying that state officials “sometimes need to turn on their brains” rather than “announcing in interviews the shutdown of social networks.” Which is not quite the same as saying that they would not do so.

The primary desire in Russia is for Twitter and all other social networks to open offices in Russia. That would smooth communications, but also provide leverage to push for censorship or access to data as needed.

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Boltcutter and chainTurkey Unblocks Twitter After Free-Speech Ruling

Yesterday the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that the blocking of Twitter violated the guarantees of free speech in the Turkish Constitution.
The government appears to have acted quickly to remove the blocks on Twitter’s IP addresses as well as the changes to DNS as ordered.

Celebratory tweets are gushing out over the wires.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Turkey Rubber Stamp

Turkey Escalates Internet Blocking With YouTube Ban | Re/code

In their continuing effort to suppress discussion of corruption in the Turkish government, they have extended their censorship efforts from blocking Twitter to blocking Youtube. This appears to be in response to Google’s refusal to remove “offending” videos.

Reports suggest that the blocking is not completely effective. If you are in Turkey and being blocked, Anonymizer Universal is able to bypass the censorship. Our two week trial provides a quick solution.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Turkey map flag

Turkey has taken their censorship of Twitter to the next level.

Initial blocking was done through DNS, so it could be easily bypassed by using something like Google DNS at 8.8.8.8.

Turkey quickly responded to the masses of people using that workaround, and are now blocking Twitter by IP address.

As one often sees with attempts at censorship, this one was counter productive. It looks like tweets from Turkey actually increased 138% following the DNS block.

Now that the censorship is IP based, a VPN like Anonymizer Universal will be required to continue to access Twitter and any other services that may be blocked.

We continue to test that service from within Turkey, and it looks to be working well. 

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Turkey Anonymous Protest

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the courts have ordered Twitter be blocked completely.

This appears to be in response to Twitter refusing to take down tweets of audio recordings purporting to be of Erdoğan engaging in corrupt activities.

Twitter is suggesting that users fall back to an SMS interface to continue to access the service. I suspect most active Twitter users follow enough people that the feed would overwhelm their SMS plans completely.

A better solution is to use a VPN like Anonymizer Universal to punch a hole through the censorship. Through Anonymizer you would then be able to access Twitter, or any other website the Turkish government might be trying to block.

Update: We have re-confirmed that Anonymizer is still accessible and working from Turkey.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Stomp by boot

US Tech Sanctions In Sudan Are Empowering The Regime, Tamping Down Opposition | Techdirt

This article makes an interesting argument that sanctions against repressive regimes, particularly sanctions that block providing communications and security technologies to end users, harm dissidents more than they do the repressive regimes they are designed to target.

In particular, companies are unable to provide cryptography and anonymity tools to the people who really need them.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Turkey Rubber StampTurkey passed legislation to allow the government to censor access to websites within four hours of receiving an allegation of privacy violations. WSJ Article behind paywall.  CNET Article

The law also requires web hosts to store all traffic information for two years. While the putative purpose of the legislation is privacy protection, it is widely assumed that this is an attempt to grab more control of the Internet, which has been repeatedly blasted by the Turkish government reporting on government corruption and graft.

As usual with these attempts at censorship, interested citizens can generally get around them. VPNs like Anonymizer Universal allow anyone to punch a hole through the national censorship firewalls to access any content.

I would be very interested to hear about efforts to block tools like Anonymizer in countries enforcing Internet censorship, like Turkey and the UK. Blocking of circumvention tools is already well documented in both China and Iran, and has been seen sporadically in many other countries.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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