A new open source Internet service that claims to beat government restrictions on Web access gets under way today.
Known as Psiphon, the service requires open-minded individuals to download a piece of software from psiphon.civisec.org that, when installed on a user's PC, allows other Psiphon users to route their http calls through that PC.
The idea is simple - Web users in repressive countries like China route their http requests to a Psiphonode (a PC with a copy of Psiphon installed on it) and log in with a pre-defined password.
As soon as they have logged in, an encrypted IP session kicks in, blocking anyone in, say, China, from eavesdropping on what the Psiphon user is looking at on the Web.
The Psiphon project is organised by a team of political scientists, software engineers and hacktivists, operating from the University of Toronto in Canada.
The beauty of the system is that, because the Web user in, say, China, uses a regular Web browser with an encrypted data session (SSL), there is no trace of the pages viewed left on the Psiphonite's computer.
The project administrators expect Psiphonodes to only give out their logon password and Psiphon IP address (to log into) to a trusted network of friends, relatives and colleagues.
In future editions of the software, they plan to enhance the software to support trusted backup networks, with node operators agreeing between themselves to act as a back-up for each other's traffic if their own node goes down for any reason.
Interesting stuff eh? I can see the Chinese government getting really worked up this. Let's hope the repressive barstewards end up bursting a collective bloodvessel over the Psiphon project...