Freedom House’s Review of Censorship Circumvention Tools

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Freedom House, the human rights organization, has recently released the report titled “Leaping Over the Firewall: A Review of Censorship Circumvention Tools.” This report describes in detail the most effective tools for bypassing online censorship in Azerbaijan, Burma, China and Iran. It also outlines the advantages and disadvantages of every tool.

As it is known, the governments of the countries mentioned above took control of all citizens' online activities. Freedom House, established by the United States, does not stay indifferent to the internet censorship at these overseas countries. Robert Guerra, Project Director of Freedom House’s Internet Freedom program, claims: “As repressive governments become increasingly savvy in their ability to filter and censor online content, these tools, which allow users to exercise their fundamental rights to free expression and privacy online, have become essential.”  The described censorship circumvention tools are recommended to unblock websites and bypass restrictions on the internet. Therefore, Freedom House thinks this report will help to protect free expression online.

But the report has not only got positive opinions about it. “I have concerns about this report’s methodologies and resulting conclusions. The report in its current form could be dangerous to the users it aims to help,” says Jacob Appelbaum in this article published on Global Voices Advocacy web site

The author attacks the report and concludes at the end: “From performance to security, the report presents mistake after mistake. The core of the review is non-technical in nature and yet the entire circumvention landscape is quite technical.” To make the tools review more objective, the author recommends to rate the tools based on:

•    availability,
•    whether the tool requires administrative privileges,
•    validated security claims,
web anonymity,
•    design and implementation details available for peer review,
•    centralization or de-centralization,
•    and other qualities

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