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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

New US system seeks to bypass Chinese web filters

August 18, 2009

Tibetan Review
August 17, 2009

Government funded broadcasters in the US are
testing a system which would enable Internet
users in China and Iran to read emails with
embedded RSS feeds that skirt censorship,
reported Reuters Aug 15. The "feed over email"
(FOE) system delivers news, podcasts and data via
technology that evades web-screening protocols of
restrictive regimes, Ken Berman, head of IT at
the US government’s Broadcasting Board of
Governors, which is testing the system, was quoted as saying.

On the question how this would work, The
Telegraph (UK) Aug 15 explained that internet
users in China or Iran would need to open an
email account with a company based outside of
their own country, such as Yahoo! and Google’s
Gmail, to overcome one of the first initial
censorship hurdles. That would then allow them to
use their email as a "proxy-less RSS reader."

The users could be sent a specially formatted
email containing feeds from external news
outlets. It would be similar to sending an email
with HTML code in it. The RSS feeds can be
quickly erased if the user comes under scrutiny from the authorities.

Reporting on it, China’s official China Daily
newspaper said Aug 15 that the technology would
pose yet another challenge to Beijing, which it
said had been struggling to keep improper and
violent materials, including pornography, away from its Internet users.

But the report quoted Hu Yong, a founding
director for China New Media Communication
Association, as saying, "Chinese netizens have
been using proxy servers to access the
information blocked by the government for a long
time, FOE is just a more convenient tool." It
also cited Thomas Parenty, a China-based IT
security consultant and former US National
Security Agency programmer, as saying that the US
seemed to be basically trying to tackle the
problem of getting past Internet filters by using
encrypted email as the transport mechanism as
opposed to using web proxies, which has been the traditional approach.
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