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Chaos Computer Club offers help to victims of censorship in China

2008-08-04 00:00:00, vt100

In response to widespread outrage against internet censorship in China, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) offers aid in circumventing the censorship measures to the affected athletes and journalists.

The so-called "Great Firewall of China" [6] consists of an assortment of filtering and blocking technologies, most of them installed by corporations from the US and Europe. The Chinese government uses these systems to disable access to websites whose content does not suit them, or even modify website content en route to the user.

"Censorship in China is a symptom of a surveillance state that has been technologically supported by western corporations for years", CCC member Björn Pahls comments on the situation. "Since its formation, the CCC has always worked against all forms of censorship, which has become commonplace in so many states today".

The CCC describes technologies and methods of circumventing censorship on a dedicated website [1]. Journalists and visitors on their way to China are offered USB-thumbdrives containing the Tor-Browser [5] software. The availability of these so-called "Freedom Sticks" is limited only to the duration of the Olympic Games. Also, German digital rights activist group FoeBuD e.V. offers "Privacy Dongles" through their web store [7].

To circumvent the Chinese censorship, the Freedom Stick uses the Tor network. Tor is a worldwide system of servers, run by volunteers to combat censorship and suppression of information by anonymizing data packets transmitted over the Internet. It encrypts the data and routes it through different servers within the Tor network, rendering useless any efforts of tracing it back to the source. A controversial new German law on data retention, currently on appeal at the German Federal Constitutional Court, criminalizes the operation of Tor network nodes. This complicates the work of volunteers that support democratic movements in dictatorships and oppressive states.

"We are calling upon the German authorities to stop criminalizing the operators of servers of the Tor network. The behavior of the authorities is detrimental to the people in oppressive states, whose lives are at risk. China is only one of many examples", says Björn Pahls of the CCC.

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Media contact: Chaos Darmstadt, presse(at)chaos-darmstadt.de