Government tests tech to break through Internet censorship

FOIA documents reveal test by Broadcasting Board of Governors

The federal broadcasting board that oversees the Voice of America recently concluded a successful test of an e-mail system that potentially could circumvent Internet censorship, according to a report published by GovernmentAttic.org.

The test report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and was published on the Government Attic website on Jan. 31.

It is not known whether the test shows a capability that might be used to transmit news during an Internet shutdown such as is being experienced in Egypt during the civic turmoil, according to a National Journal article today.

The report indicates that the Feed Over Email (FOE) system tested by the Broadcasting Board of Governors was designed to transmit news and complement other anti-censorship tools. The test showed the system was effective in transporting data in tests carried out for from March to June last year in China.


Related story:

House bill targets Internet censorship



"The data that FOE transports can be anything from RSS feeds to normal files to proxy addresses. FOE messages are compressed and encoded so normal keyword-filtering technologies won't be able to censor FOE messages (data can also be encrypted if necessary.) The main difference between regular e-mail and FOE is that, instead of the user reading the e-mail directly, the FOE client program will decompress and decode FOE messages and present the data in meaningful ways (e.g. displaying RSS feed, downloading files/applications, providing latest proxy server addresses, etc.),” the test report document said.

Each FOE user needs to have an e-mail account outside his or her home country for the FOE system to achieve the maximum success rate.





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The 2014 Federal 100

Get to know the 100 women and men honored this year for going above and beyond in federal IT.

Reader comments

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 bp

OK, that eplains it. The response to my last comment was "Your comment has been received. It will appear on this page once it has been approved by our editors."

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 bp

"Each FOE user needs to have an e-mail account outside his or her home country for the FOE system to achieve the maximum success rate. " This article has been floating around for 2+ days. There is only one post before this one. I can't be the only one who would question how you would access your out of country email account if your internet access was "shutdown such as is being experienced in Egypt" ? I'm providing my comment to check whether this is already being censored !

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 bp

"Each FOE user needs to have an e-mail account outside his or her home country for the FOE system to achieve the maximum success rate. " This article has been floating around for 2+ days. There is only one post before this one. I can't be the only one who would question how you would access your out of country email account if your internet access was "shutdown such as is being experienced in Egypt" ? I'm providing my comment to check whether this is already being censored !

Wed, Feb 2, 2011

This procedure is very interesting. It is important in counterintelligence. How do we proceed when it is required that information will mot be transmitted?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above