Government tests tech to break through Internet censorship
FOIA documents reveal test by Broadcasting Board of Governors
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Feb 01, 2011
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.
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"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.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.