Psiphon: Revenge of the Nerds

Via Digg, three Canadian hackers are aiming to penetrate the "Great Firewall" of Chinese censorship. This is exactly the political hope Kerry Howley placed in technology earlier last summer, when all the fuss of US search engines entering China gathered new storms:

But the computer smarts of Ron Deibert, Nart Villeneuve, and Michael Hull, combined with their passion for politics and free expression, have led them to develop a highly anticipated software program that allows Internet users inside China and other countries, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Burma, to get around repressive censorship and not get caught.
The project is receiving funding from heavy guns, including $3 mill. from McAurthur; Citizen Lab from Soro's Open Society Institute. In other words, high hopes are riding that this will unleash the fiery pens of repressed Chinese journalists, humanitarians, and leading individual voices of all types.

The Star does a good job of explaining the technicals to non-geeks, "To understand Psiphon, it's important to first understand the idea of a proxy"--so I'll borrow heavily in summarizing. "For years proxies have been considered a kind of ladder to cyberspace freedom. The problem is that in order to use a proxy, you have to know about it--i.e. published online. Psiphon's innovation allows individual users to turn their computer into a proxy server, and "once the software is installed on a computer in, say, Canada, that person creates a contact list of trusted friends or family members in censored countries and sends his or her IP address to them." The privacy of the proxy's IP here is the crucial value-add, in sidestepping the typical publiation the users also avoid the censor's eye. For security, paraphrasing from the Star, Psiphon also provides encryption of the quality used in the financial sector. Further, since the proxy provides an external server, the Chinese users maintain a print-free computer, should the revolution come knocking.