May 04, 2004

Open Net Initiative : The IBB's Anonymizer Service in Iran

Interesting reading, which I suppose I should comment on:

Unintended Risks and Consequences of Circumvention Technologies: The IBB's Anonymizer Service in Iran

(thanks to Boing Boing, emailed via Evelyn Rodriguez / Crossroads Dispatches)

[Note, remember, all people giving me advice, don't tell me about the World Censorship Research project. I know of them, they know of me, a lack of awareness of existence is not crying out to be remedied.]

The report discusses that the circumvention service for Iran promoted by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) is quite flawed. In specific, the service has its own, typically poor, blacklist for sex sites, and doesn't anonymize very well.

I basically can't write what I'd like to say about it all, because I have too much inside information about how it came to be developed, and it's way too political for me to detail it (I'd be writing about people who didn't hire me, just to start :-))

As a general observation, this can be viewed as an faltering attempt at Office Of Left Hand And Right Hand Coordination. The usual knock runs "How can the US be helping to fight censorship abroad while censoring at home!". Well, it can in fact be made very consistent: It's potentially helping to fight censorship of material that the other country wants censorsed, but the US wants available, while maintaining censorship of material the US does not want available. It does make sense.

Original content to this blog, which you will NOT find elsewhere in any echoing, due to my expertise:

Part of what's in the report, about keywords and site whitelist used in the anonymizer, has actually been known for a long long time (from Bennett Haselton / But it wasn't much reported then (not even Peacefire gets PR every time!), so there's no reason they should know that (i.e., this is not pulling a Declan).

Do note that now with the Harvard name and resources behind it, this time around, that information will get out ... (there's a lesson in there ...)

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on May 04, 2004 01:22 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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Thanks for pointing this out. When I conducted the research for the "Unintended Risks and Consequences of Circumvention Technologies: The IBB's Anonymizer Service in Iran" report I was not aware of Bennett's discovery -- I have added a note at the bottom of the report indicating that Bennett had previously discovered that Anonymizer blocks by keyword and that certain domains are whitelisted.

Posted by: nart at May 5, 2004 12:46 PM