27 July 2009
Fighting back against the creeping censorship
Last year we looked at how Nu-Labour plans to censor the blogs and the video sharing sites. It then emerged that the regime had taken powers to order the suspension of mobile 'phone services, all this as part of a wide-ranging scheme "to monitor every phone call, website visit, text message, and email in the country..."
The organised left which should be planning our response has done sweet fuck all, which leaves your friendly old exile to ask the question, just how are we going to stoke the fires when the shit hits the fan, and when the government has prevented us from communicating?
We need to look abroad for our inspiration. The Iranian rioters seem to be using video as their primary agitprop tool. A lot of the video that is kicking around is in MP4 format, which suggests that it is being passed around via mobiles, since they all use MP4. The rioters are also uploading video to YouTube and the like, which is why the government in Tehran is trying to block access to the site, and why the regime in London will want to do the same thing.
It is highly unlikely that mobile 'phone services will be cut off for days at a time. A more likely scenario is that they will go off air in the riot zones for a limited period. That means that video footage can be passed around once the services have been restored, or that activists can hop on a bus and travel outside the rioting area to find a signal. Either way this method of agitation is almost certain to remain open for use, just as it has in Iran.
More problematical is the use of the video sharing sites. Both China and Iran try to prevent access to them, but methods to overcome their schemes have been devised. Funnily enough, they have been devised by the Americans, which makes their use by us all the sweeter.
What the USA has done is to create proxy software that can be downloaded and installed on a computer. It is fairly easy for a government to block access to on-line proxies, so this method circumvents that ploy. The most well known example of proxy software is Freegate, which is used by over 200,000 computers to break down government censorship in China. Unfortunately it is only available for use in China, although rumours that it will soon become available world-wide are rife. What is available at the moment is Ultrasurf, a small bit of software that works in a similar fashion to the better known Freegate, but which can be used anywhere.
The time to start getting to grips with this is now. We cannot wait until the next time a northern city or town kicks off because, given government plans, by then it may very well be too late.