Psiphon: censorship circumvention personal web-proxy

Psiphon is a new anti-censorship web proxy just released by U. Toronto. People outside of a censoring country run a Psiphon server, and people inside a censoring country (<cough>China</cough>) just go to the server’s URL and enter whatever URL they want to visit in the page’s own virtual toolbar. The server handles encryption and proxying of the web pages automatically, and gets around URL-based and content-based filters.

One interesting aspect is that they’re not doing anything to help people find a particular proxy. Instead they’re relying on social networks, which is to say word-of-mouth:

A social network is a structure of nodes – usually individuals or organizations – that have ties between them, such as families or groups of friends or colleagues. psiphon leverages social networks as the discovery mechanism. The psiphonode administrator and the psiphonite(s) have a trust relationship and the web address is known only to these trusted people. Each network of psiphonode/psiphonites chooses how to grow the network. It can be small and extremely private or large and relatively semi-private. It depends on the specific context and needs of the psiphonites.

The nice thing about this set up is that it doesn’t need any new routing or discovery infrastructure (since it relies on people to set them up themselves) and it makes it harder for governments to find Psiphon servers and block their ports.

(Props to Infothought for the link.)