The program, called psiphon (pronounced â€œSY-fonâ€), will be released on Dec. 1 in response to growing Internet censorship that is pushing citizens in restrictive countries to pursue more elaborate and sophisticated programs to gain access to Western news sites, blogs and other censored material.
â€œThe problem is growing exponentially,â€ said Ronald Deibert, director of the University of Torontoâ€™s Citizen Lab, which designed psiphon. â€œWhat might have started as censorship of pornography and Western news organizations has expanded to include blogging sites, religious sites, health information sites and many others.â€
Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country (psiphon.civisec.org), turning that personâ€™s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted-access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites. The programâ€™s designers say there is no evidence on the userâ€™s computer of having viewed censored material once they erase their Internet history after each use. The software is part of a broader effort to live up to the initial hopes human rights activists had that the Internet would provide unprecedented freedom of expression for those living in restrictive countries.