Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Friday, January 26, 2007

No more blocked sites - psiphon

What is psiphon?
psiphon is a censorship circumvention solution that allows users to access blocked sites in countries where the Internet is censored. psiphon turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere

Hmm, is that a way that students could access blocked sites from behind the firewalls of education facilites?
Can psiphon be blocked?
With publicly accessible circumvention systems one must assume that the censors can also discover and subsequently block access to these systems. The difference with psiphon - a personal system - is that the web address is only sent to a few, trusted, people. In that way, the censors cannot easily find and block the location of the psiphon server.
The only way for this to be blocked by school systems might be the use of white lists

Can a psiphon user be monitored by their government or Internet Service Provider (ISP)?
Yes, your government and/or ISP can always monitor which web sites you visit. When you use psiphon, your government and/or ISP can only see that you connected to another computer, not the sites you visit. psiphon makes it difficult for anyone to determine that you are using psiphon
What will be the impact of white lists on "free and open education for all'.


  • At 1:18 pm, Blogger Bill Kerr said…

    Great idea, thanks peter. This disruptive technology encourages me to face some ethical issues.

    I wonder if socially aware teachers and / or students might want to investigate supporting bloggers in fascist countries where citizens are denied fundamental human rights. Teach democratic rights as a real life principle on which it is possible to take action.

    Seth Finkelstein, point 7 :
    " If censorware works for parents to control children in the US (substitute Australia), it’ll work for governments to control citizens in e.g. China. Contrariwise, if censorware can’t work for governments to control citizens in e.g. China, it can’t work for parents to control children in the US.

    Many discussions of censorware tend to revolve around statements of values, usually concerning which authorities have legitimate rights of control, in what contexts. Typically the values are that parents have a right to prohibit their children from reading certain materials, employers can control what employees view, but governments should not censor citizen’s ability to obtain information. However, the technical implications here are essentially identical, no matter what the social relationships.

    So there’s a deep problem in efforts to bypass Internet censorship. If citizens can escape from government control, then children can escape from parent’s control. But if restricting information works on minors in the US, it’ll work on citizens under dictatorial governments. Either way, the results are problematic."

  • At 5:49 pm, Blogger Wara said…

    errrr, this really opens a can of worms. I am not sure what is the best way to deal with this.

  • At 9:41 pm, Blogger Vance Stevens said…

    I think the best way to deal with this is to like, you know, DEAL with it. What I mean is teach people, meaning students, citizens of the world, how to use Internet responsibly and what the threats and benefits are. To do otherwise, to censor, block, avoid reality, will not work in the end and will force users to tunnel under the blockage, to find the truth in their own way, outside the control of the entity putting up the obstacle. Whoever wants to be in control has to practice honesty and access to information; and if that entity can instill some sense of morality and reponsibility while avoiding manipulation, then that would have to be ... us, right?

  • At 8:33 am, Blogger Leigh Blackall said…

    iris scanning?
    I dunno if parents do have the right to censor what their children do... but that's besides the point - if a parent is trying to exercise that right, they're failing in parenting aren't they? Wouldn't it be better to model, guide and demonstrate - rather than police and restrict?
    But Seth, your article on censorware is very interesting and worth the read if anyone else is here and listening in...
    Thanks for the pointer Wara.

  • At 4:09 pm, Blogger Miguel said…

    Howdy...you can find links to other tools like this at:

    Read/Write Web teacher advocates are in a tough situation. To advocate the use of these tools is to violate existing acceptable use policies in school districts, while choosing not to use them means that students/teachers lose access to beneficial services.

    Miguel Guhlin

  • At 5:46 pm, Blogger Wara said…

    Thankyou for the comments Bill, Vance Leigh and Miguel. I am still thinking about how best to approach this issue at school.


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