The challenge is immense. Even as Internet users fight to share and receive information, repressive-government censors are creating a complex array of filtering, blocking and surveillance tools to shut their citizens down and shut their journalists up.
As a 2012 report from Reporters Without Borders puts it:
“Repressive regimes have learned the lesson. Keeping the media at bay, intimidating witnesses and blocking access to a few news websites are not enough to ensure the success of a news blackout. A much more effective way is to seal off the area concerned to prevent unwanted witness from entering and any digital content from leaving, and to cut off communications by blocking SMS messaging and by shutting down Internet access and mobile phone services in a temporary or targeted manner…
“The neutralization of encryption, anonymization and circumvention tools is also being prioritized by repressive regimes. Iran is now capable of blocking https and the ports used by Virtual Private Networks. China is able to restrict the number of IP addresses that can connect to the international network at the same time.”
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