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Archive for April, 2011

We have heard a lot lately about how much of the anti-dictatorship uprisings in the Middle East have been mediated by technology, including cell phones and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  “Freedom of the Press” no longer means just the right to print and distribute newspapers, but to have digital freedom of access to internal and external news sources, free from governmental censorship or retaliation.  Oppressive regimes certainly have noticed this fact, witness the Egyptian government’s attempt to cut Egypt off from the Internet during their recent rebellion.

But using the Internet safely from inside a repressive regime is not necessarily an easy thing to do.  Likely, you would not use your own identity on your posts or in your emails, and even going to certain websites can either be blocked or at least noted for later retaliation.  How would someone go about this, then?  The answer is that there are organizations that provide anonymous proxy services that allow access through sites that are not blocked (yet!) by national firewalls (as in: China, among others).

I point out to you an organization that is working not just to advocate Internet freedom, but providing resources and information to help those trapped within these countries to use the Internet to forward their causes.  Take a look at Access, which describes themselves as:

. . . a global movement premised on the belief that political participation and the realization of human rights in the 21st century is increasingly dependent on access to the internet and other forms of technology. Founded in the wake of the 2009 Iranian post-election crackdown, Access teams with digital activists and civil society groups internationally to build their technical capacity and to help them advocate globally for their digital rights.

If you are proud to think that the technologies we use every day are playing a part overthrowing dictators and oppressive regimes, you might consider participating in or donating to Access or to a similar organization — put your money where your heart is.  Or consider participating in one of their proxy-anonymizer projects.  But get involved — make it happen.

And, if you’re interested in their how-to suggestions on preserving privacy in a repressive country, take a look at this.  Actually, these aren’t bad instructions for US, if you really want to be anonymous in the digital world — you can use these same techniques yourself here at home.

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