Internet censorship is a fact of life in China, where the government routinely blocks access to certain Web sites, including those deemed politically unacceptable. Chinese officials rarely comment on these efforts, but have in the past defended them as being in line with international norms.
Cottrell declined to go into detail about how Operation: Anti-Censorship works, but said the software basically creates an encrypted SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection between a user and an authenticated server that allows the user to access blocked sites. As Chinese censors shut down access to these servers, Anonymizer will move them to new IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and send the updated addresses to users via e-mail updates, he said.
This isn't the first time that Anonymizer has looked for ways to beat Chinese censors. A couple of years ago, the company was hired by the Voice of America (VoA) to develop software to help Chinese users access blocked sites. Anonymizer is now working with the VoA on a similar project for Internet users in Iran.
What makes Operation: Anti-Censorship different from these projects is that the effort is not government-funded, Cottrell said.
The project was developed in response to business practices adopted in China by Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Google Inc., which "basically capitulated to Chinese demands for censorship," Cottrell said. He didn't accept their justification that Chinese Internet users benefit from having censored access to these companies' services as opposed to no access at all.
"There are other alternatives," Cottrell said.
I'm glad to see some companies are working against the Chinese distatorship rather than withthem.