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Iranian Protesters Avoid Censorship With Navy Technology

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) has tried to thwart protester use of the Internet to communicate, but the opposition has turned to old U.S. Navy technology to protect their identities.

Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Some Iranian protestors dissatisfied with their government's response to the disputed election are using The Onion Router (TOR), an Internet encryption program originally developed by the U.S. Navy, to bypass Iran's censorship efforts. Designed 10 years ago as a way to secure Internet communications between ships at sea, TOR has become an important proxy for Iranians looking to access blocked Web sites. The system of proxy servers that disguise a user's Internet traffic is currently run by the nonprofit Tor Project, which says that TOR connections have jumped 600 percent since the mass protests in Iran started following the election.

Iran, with more than 20 million Internet users out of a population of 70 million people, has a well developed blogosphere. TOR has enabled Iranians to visit government-banned Web sites and avoid detection by the authorities. The Tor Project provides the service by routing Web requests through several different computer servers around the world. While other proxy servers are available, TOR is considered the best because it is an encrypted network of multiple nodes, with each node unlocking encryption to the next node. editor Noah Shachtman says TOR is different from other methods of evading Internet censorship because it is "all but impossible for governments to track Web sites a TOR user is visiting. TOR is a great way to give Ahmadinejad's Web censors headaches."

From The Washington Times
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