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Iceland to Ban Pornography Online – Porn Proxy Time

Well if you like to idle away those long winter nights (and days) in Reykjavik by surfing a little porn online, then you might want to consider moving away or at least invest in a porn proxy! The Iceland Government have decided they want to do something good for their citizens (as opposed to bankrupting the country with a hopeless banking system) and are going to ban pornography from the web in Iceland.

Off to Purchase a Porn Proxy ?

Every time I see these sort of stories my heart sinks, why can’t people just leave the internet alone and let people make up their own minds.  You might think that it’s all for a good cause, banning all that nasty porn stuff and everyone will behave and be nice to each other.  Who knows they might be right, but what I do know is that censoring and filtering the internet doesn’t work – it never does.

An adviser to Iceland’s interior minister-  Ogmundur Jonasson who is drafting the legislation was quoted as follows –

“At the moment, we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this…..but surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet.”

A comment that first got me thinking, can Iceland actually send a man to the moon and secondly they haven’t got a clue about how to achieve this and what sort of issues they will face.

It’s just another of these populist ideas that politicians have, the fact that when you start censoring and filtering  the internet, you also start to erode people’s civil liberties.   I have no idea if there is any scientific basis to the argument that no porn on internet = less rape and sex crimes, I suspect very little.  However I do know that any content filtering will only work against a minority of citizens and almost exclusively on the law abiding ones.

There are so many ways to bypass these filters, that your average sexual predator will easily be able to access whatever pornography they like.  The Chinese Government have invested billions in their Great Firewall of China and yet your average 12 year old Beijing schoolboy can easily bypass them using a simple VPN or high anonymity proxy.   Do we have any evidence that Iceland will come up with a technical solution more advanced than the People’s republic of China – obviously it it’s not going to happen.

What will happen is that another Government will have a little more control over it’s citizens, but only the ones who follow rules anywhere.  The Iceland government will also have this infrastructure installed so maybe next year they’ll think of some thing else we shouldn’t do online and will add that to the banned list.  It always happens you start by banning one thing then it just get’s easier and easier to control more aspects of what people can do online.

It’s negative, oppressive and most of all it doesn’t work…..

If you’re in Iceland, Kuwait, Iran, China or anywhere else where the Governments decides whether you can watch porn, politics , sports or whatever – then try this – Identity Cloaker, it’s not just a simple porn proxy either over, but a sophisticated security product that can bypass all sorts of blocks and filters and keep you hidden whilst you do so!

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Using a Proxy Server to Enhance Freedom on the Internet

The United States of America is known for its declarative stances on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case when we spend a lifetime – pursuing liberty – only to be met with the unhappiness of censorship.  In today’s modern world, the battle for freedom, along with the war against freedom of expression, has shifted gears online. Repressive regimes persistently undermine global civil liberties; cunningly employing various Internet censorship techniques to appear stagnant and under the radar.

The magnitude of Internet filtering and censorship in any given nation is measured by the OpenNet Initiative, or “ONI.” According their website mission statement, the OpenNet Initiative aims to “identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance, and to promote and inform wider public dialogues about such practices.” There are 5 categories of censorship magnitudes (in addition to various nations profiled on ONI’s website) that are structured upon the following bases:

1.) Lack of Evidence
In this case, there is no apparent evidence that websites are being blocked by the government, though forms of control may be employed. The biggest offending countries of proof-voided corroboration are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria,  Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and finally, Zimbabwe.

2.) Suspected
This category alludes to suspicion of blocked websites by governmental influences, yet without tangible confirmation. A prime example is North Korea, which has a national intranet with approximately 30 approved websites. North Korea is an extremely isolated country, and this separation contributes to the difficulties posed in obtaining substantial information.

3.) Selective
This grouping implies that a small number of websites may be blocked, and/or a small number of people may see filtered results.  Countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, India, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand and Turkey serve as the deeming nations under this category.

4.) Substantial
This category identifies nations that filter search results, while further blocking websites at a regularly-low or moderate level. Countries likely to be considered under this grouping are Burma, Ethiopia, Gaza and the West Bank, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Korea, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

5.) Pervasive
Under this extreme magnitude, massive censorship is implemented by the government. Many websites are blocked and freedom of expression is severely limited. Participating nations include: Bahrain, China, Iran, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen.

In an attempt to expose cyber filtering and surveillance practices, OPI monitors and rates four areas of Internet activity, as listed below.

i.) Social
These websites generally centralize around taboo issues; ranging from sexually-explicit content, various forms of betting and drugs. The worst offending countries are considered to be: North Korea, Yemen, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iran and Bahrain.

ii.) Political
This area pertains to website content that opposes, refutes or negates governmental control. Additionally banned are issues regarding human rights and freedom of expression. Implied transgressing countries are North Korea, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Iran, China, Burma and Bahrain.

iii.) Internet Tools
This degree interferes, monitors and tampers with e-mail; web hosting; search and translation; VoIP communications and social media. In light of the Arab Spring uprising, social media has skyrocketed as expressive platforms that convey both sentiments and information in opposition with imposed, authoritative control. The worst offending nations are North Korea, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran.

iv.) Conflict & Security
This classification includes anything spanning a vast military spectrum, with sectors in opposition, separatist movements and militant groups. The nations assumed under this category are North Korea, South Korea and China.

In a June 2011 issue of the New York Times, the United States was chronicled as a nation engaged in a global effort to “deploy shadow Internet and mobile phone systems[in which] dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.”  Additionally, internet censorship can be circumvented by utilizing a proxy server website to access banned data. A proxy server website is an un-blocked server that is outside of the censored geographic area of the user. This website tool enables retrieval of censored data. Another way to informationally-intervene is by changing a censored IP address to that of an IP from a non-censored country, for example by using change IP address software. For assistance in visualizing the above information, look at our infographic below which showcases the key points of anti-censorship data. After all, it’s only fair that a democratic nation encourages “freedom of speech” as a globally-applicable entitlement.

Using US Proxy Servers


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_circumvention
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_server
Source: http://opennet.net/research/profiles
Source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080223102536AAU9EcG

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The Internet – A Forum for Free Speech

Freedom of expression is classed as a basic human right both in UN statute and International law. Of course this doesn’t mean that all countries and governments respect this right – clearly when you look at countries like Iran, China and Syria that certainly isn’t the case.

Post something critical online about the Thai royal family and if you live in Thailand, expect a knock on the door very soon. Egypt, Turkey, Gaddafi’s Libya and lots of other Middle Eastern countries also have take a very keen interest in controlling what is posted and discussed on the internet.

The control is usually implemented by fear supplemented by draconian filtering and censoring technologies. Facebook and YouTube are routinely blocked in lots of countries across the world simply because they are very lightly moderated and actively encourage free discussion.

Forums are also a great way for people to gather and discuss various topics and I want to tell you the story of an Arabic discussion forum called Tomaar.net. The site was initially created as a place for Saudis to discuss philosophical aspects of Islam – here’s a screenshot of it.

Tomaar Forum

The forum became very popular primarily because it was a place where subjects like women’s rights, equality and homosexuality could be discussed by Saudi’s in the context of their religion.  It soon started to attract visitors from across the world and became a hugely successful forum for Arabic speakers.  Needless to say that site was not very popular with the religious fundamentalists who hated this sort of free discussion – and this included the Saudi Government.

The forum was hosted in the USA, so it couldn’t be closed down by the Saudi Government who did however block all access from any ISP situated in their country.  Fortunately the forum users were sophisticated web users and were able to use circumvention tools like Identity Cloaker and TOR to bypass the blocks and filters.  Also many users lived outside Saudi Arabia and were not subject to the ban and so the forum continued to grow in popularity.

What Happened Next to Tomaar.net?

Well the forum had a pretty tough time over the coming months after the Saudi blocks were put up.   First of all their hosting providers suddenly pulled the plug, no warning just a letter terminating their contract.  Then followed a succession of hosting providers but all were unable to keep the forum up for very long.

Tomaar.net was being targeted and overloaded by frequent DDOS attacks.  DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service and is basically when a web server is overloaded by loads of computers (also called a botnet) all making repeated requests at the same time.  The server hosting the forum was being overloaded and falling over.

You can defend against these attacks and in fact they tried valiantly to keep the forum up commissioning specialist companies like Prolexic Technologies to protect the site.  However in the end it just became too costly to protect the site against these regular attacks, the Tomaar site died and a lively discussion forum exists only in the cache of sites like the Waybackmachine.

Was the Saudi Government responsible for all this, there’s no direct proof that I know of.  However there are many who strongly believe they were behind the attacks.  The reality is that is would be extremely easy for a Government to shut down a site like this, you can even buy large DDOS attacks online for a few hundred dollars.

This is perhaps the most worrying aspect that even a site hosted in a country famous for protecting freedom of speech is not safe.  It’s so very simple to close down a website if  you have some resources available – no problem at all if you’re an oil rich fundamentalist government.