[Fwd: Hackers to unleash anti-censorship tool]

From: Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 02:43:09 PDT

Hey, what's wrong with Mojonation? cDc has got a case of NIH...

-------- Original Message --------
From: Matthew Gaylor <freematt@coil.com>
Subject: Hackers to unleash anti-censorship tool
To: Matthew Gaylor <freematt@coil.com>

Hackers to unleash anti-censorship tool
By Will Knight, ZDNet (UK)
April 30, 2001 10:03 AM PT

A computer hacking group best known for creating tools for hijacking
computer systems is turning its hand to civil disobedience and plans
to release an application that could scupper government and corporate
censorship around the world.

The tool--to be called Peekabooty--will be based on peer-to-peer
network technology. This allows data to be distributed directly
between computer systems and has attained fame through the emergence
of music-sharing technologies such as Napster and Gnutella.
Peekabooty hosts will cooperate in a similar way to Gnutella--without
a central server--but in this case will share and distribute
controversial Web pages.

The group behind the application is the Cult of the Dead Cow, a team
of white hat (non-criminal) computer hackers best known for producing
security tools that exploit weaknesses in Microsoft software. Their
best-known tools are BackOrifice and BackOrifice2000, which allow a
computer hacker to take control of computers running Microsoft
operating systems.

A source close to the group said it plans to produce the tool for
circumventing government Internet blocking at Defcon, the world's
premiere computer security conference, to be held in Las Vegas this

According to the source, Peekabooty will enable those living in
oppressive regimes to access prohibited material through fellow
Peekabooty clients located in more liberal countries. The client
grabs the requested content and sends it back to the original
computer in a compacted and encrypted form that cannot be filtered
out using conventional technology. Because there is no central
authority, unlike Napster, it would be more problematic to control.

"[It's] completely distributed and impossible to shut down," said the
source. "Users will be able to request proscribed Web pages with a
client through a distributed server cloud. An intelligent agent will
be dispatched from the server to the Web page, grab the content, zip
it down, take it back to the server, then punt it back to the client."

Government control
Although the Internet is often portrayed as an untamed frontier, a
number of national governments put considerable effort into
controlling what information reaches their citizens through the Web.
The Chinese government blocks access to certain news sources that are
thought to be critical of its policies. It does this by restricting
the material that comes into China at a number of key points. A
handful of other Far East governments operate similar policies.

It's not just hard-line governments that control Internet content,
however. More liberal countries operating a policy to restrict what
citizens can access include Australia, which prevents access to
pornographic material; Germany, where Nazi memorabilia is restricted;
and France. A court in France famously ruled that the U.S.-based
Internet company Yahoo must prevent French Web users from viewing
Nazi artifacts available via its auction site. In these countries,
access to the Internet is controlled by making ISPs liable for
hosting illegal content.

There already exist technologies designed to prevent the authorities
from stopping material reaching individual Internet users. These
include the Freedom Internet browser and Web sites like SafeWeb,
although the Chinese government tries to restrict access to certain
services including SafeWeb.

Ian Brown, a computer security researcher at University College
London, believes that Peekabooty could prove a success once
restricted material gets past Chinese Internet border controls and
reaches the first host. Brown adds that the use of this technology,
coupled with the growth of services like SafeWeb may cause the
Chinese government to think about controlling encryption further.

Yaman Akdeniz, director of U.K. Internet liberties watchdog Cyber
Rights & Cyber Liberties said that trying to apply different national
laws to the Internet has always proved problematic and governments
have often resorted to blocking access to information.

"Different countries have different moral and cultural backgrounds.
That has been a puzzling issue." He said that defeating government
censorship is a positive step towards freedom of information.

"Any technology that allows someone to access the Net without
government restrictions is good," he said. "But governments will not
like it."


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