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HANDBOOK FOR BLOGGERS AND CYBER-DISSIDENTS

Download here

.HANDBOOK FOR
BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
MARCH 2008
HANDBOOK
FOR BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HANDBOOK
FOR BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
CONTENTS
© 2008 Reporters Without Borders
04
07
BLOGGERS, A NEW SOURCE OF NEWS
Clothilde Le Coz
WHAT’S A BLOG ?
LeMondedublog.com
08 THE LANGUAGE OF BLOGGING
LeMondedublog.com
10 CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
Cyril Fiévet, Marc-Olivier Peyer and LeMondedublog.com
16 HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
The WordPress system
22 WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGUEURS HAVE ?
Dan Gillmor
26 GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH-ENGINES
Olivier Andrieu
32 WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE ?
Mark Glaser
36 PERSONAL ACCOUNTS
• SWITZERLAND: “”
Picidae
40
43
• EGYPT: “When the line between journalist and activist disappears”
Wael Abbas
• THAILAND : “The Web was not designed for bloggers”
Jotman
46 HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY WITH WORDPRESS AND TOR
Ethan Zuckerman
54 TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Nart Villeneuve
71 ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
Ludovic Pierrat
75 THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS OF CYBER-CENSORSHIP
Clothilde Le Coz
3 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
mine
INTRODUCTION
BLOGGERS,
A NEW SOURCE OF
NEWS
By Clothilde Le Coz
B
loggers cause anxiety. Governments are wary of these men and women, who
are posting news, without being professional journalists. Worse, bloggers
sometimes raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “tradition-
al”, do not dare cover. Blogs have in some countries become a source of news in their
own right.
Nearly 120,000 blogs are created every day. Certainly the blogosphere is not just
adorned by gems of courage and truth. It is also often the source of confusion and dis-
information and not all bloggers have the souls of reporters. That is why this handbook
contains advice on creating and updating a blog, with no other ambition than that of free
expression. For others it will be a struggle to draw attention to a particular issue. The first
concern therefore is to make a publication visible (see the Jotman article). This hand-
book also suggests ploys to get your blog well referenced online (see the Olivier
Andrieu article) as well as “editorial” recommendations (Get your blog to stand out, by
Mark Glazer).
Let’s acknowledge that blogs are a fantastic tool for freedom of expression. They have
unloosed the tongues of ordinary citizens. People who were until now only consumers
of news have become players in a new form of journalism, a “grassroots” journalism, as
expressed by Dan Gillmor (Grassroots journalism — see the chapter What ethics should
bloggers have?), that is “by the people for the people”.
Blogs are more or less controllable for those who want to keep them under surveillance.
Governments that are most up to do date with new technology use the most sophisti-
cated filtering or blocking techniques, preventing them from appearing on the Web at
all. But bloggers don’t just sit back and let it happen. The essential question becomes
how to blog in complete safety. With a normal IP address, a blogger can be tracked
down and arrested. Anonymity allows them to keep their freedom (See “How to blog
anonymously).
In countries where censorship holds sway, blogs are sometimes the only source of
news. During the events in Burma in the autumn of 2007, pitting monks and the peo-
ple against the military junta, bloggers were the main source of news for foreign jour-
5 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
BLOGGERS, A NEW SOURCE OF NEWS
nalists. Their video footage made it possible to gauge the scale of the protests and what
demonstrators’ demands were. For more than two months, marches were held in the
streets, then a massive crackdown was launched against opponents that only the
Burmese were able to show, so hard did it become for the few foreign journalists who
managed to enter the country to get back out with their footage. And bloggers could
not get the footage out without getting round online censorship imposed by the gov-
ernment. This handbook seeks to help every blogger to fill in the “black holes” In news.
The second part is devoted to techniques which can thwart filtering technology (Choose
your method to get round censorship by Nart Villeneuve). With a little good sense and
persistence and above all finding the technique best suited to the situation, every blog-
ger should be capable of shaking off censorship.
Clothilde Le Coz
Head of the Internet Freedom desk
6 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
DEFINITION
WHAT’S A BLOG?
By LeMondedublog.com
A “BLOG” (OR “WEBLOG”) IS A PERSONAL WEBSITE :
• containing mostly news (“posts”).
• regularly updated.
• in the form of a diary (most recent posts at the top of the page),
with most of the posts also arranged in categories.
• set up using a specially-designed interactive tool.
• usually created and run by a single person, sometimes anonymously.
A BLOG’S POSTS :
• are usually text (including external links), sometimes with pictures and,
more and more often, sound and video.
• can be commented on by visitors.
• are archived on the blog and can been accessed there indefinitely.
SO A BLOG IS MUCH LIKE A “PERSONAL WEBPAGE, EXCEPT THAT IT :
• is easier to set up and maintain and so much more active
and more frequently updated.
• encourages a more open and personal style and franker viewpoints.
• greatly encourages discussion with visitors and other bloggers.
• sets a standard worldwide format for blogs, involving similar methods
(two or three-column layout, comments on posts and RSS
(Really Simple Syndication) feed.
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TE RM I NOLOGY
THE LANGUAGE
OF
BLOGGING
By Lemondedublog.com
BLOG
Short for Weblog. A website that contains
written material, links or photos being
posted all the time, usually by one indivi-
dual, on a personal basis.
(TO) BLOG
Run a blog or post material on one.
BLOGGER
Person who runs a blog.
BLOGOSPHERE
All blogs, or the blogging community.
BLOGROLL
List of external links appearing on a blog,
often links to other blogs and usually in a
column on the homepage. Often amounts
to a “sub-community” of bloggers who are
friends.
CONTENT SYNDICATION
How a site’s author or administrator makes
all or part of its content available for posting
on another website.
MOBLOG
Contraction of “mobile blog.” A blog that
can be updated remotely from anywhere,
such as by phone or a digital assistant.
PERMALINK
Contraction of “permanent link.” Web
address of each item posted on a blog. A
handy way of permanently bookmarking a
post, even after it has been archived by the
blog it originated from.
PHOTOBLOG
A blog mostly containing photos, posted
constantly and chronologically.
BLOGWARE PODCASTING
Software used to run a blog. Contraction of “iPod” and “broadcasting.”
Posting audio and video material on a blog
and its RSS feed, for digital players.
COMMENT SPAM POST
Like e-mail spam. Robot “spambots” flood An item posted on a blog. Can be a mes-
a blog with advertising in the form of bogus sage or news, or just a photo or a link.
comments. A serious problem that requires Usually a short item, including external
bloggers and blog platforms to have tools links, that visitors can comment on.
to exclude some users or ban some
addresses in comments.
8 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE LANGUAGE OF BLOGGING
RSS (REALLY SIMPLE SYNDICATION)
A way of handling the latest items posted
on a website, especially suited for blogs
because it alerts users whenever their
favourite blogs are updated. It can also
“syndicate” content by allowing other
websites (simply and automatically) to
reproduce all or part of a site’s content.
Spreading fast, especially on media websites.
RSS AGGREGATOR
Software or online service allowing a
blogger to read an RSS feed, especially the
latest posts on his favourite blogs. Also
called a reader, or feedreader.
RSS FEED
The file containing a blog’s latest posts. It is
read by an RSS aggregator/reader and
shows at once when a blog has been updated.
TRACKBACK
A way that websites can communicate
automatically by alerting each other that an
item posted on a blog refers to a previous
item.
9 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WEB DIARY
A blog.
WIKI
From the Hawaiian word “wikiwiki” (quick).
A website that can be easily and quickly
updated by any visitor. The word has also
come to mean the tools used to create a
wiki (wiki engines). Blogs and wikis have
some similarities but are quite different.
USEFUL TIPS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
By Cyril Fi vet and Marc-Olivier Peyer and Lemondedublog.com
B
logs owe a lot to the growth of dynamic publishing tools that greatly simplify the
business of updating websites.
A tool for use with a blog must provide a user-friendly interface (easily accessible through
an Web navigator) and dynamically manage its content, with such things as archives and
searches.
A blog has two Internet addresses that don’t change after it’s been set up:
• l’its address for public access.
• l’its administrative address, protected by a password belonging to the person
who runs it.
You can set up a blog by either joining a blog community or using a blog tool with your
own server.
BLOG COMMUNITIES
(See the chapter on “How to set up and run a blog: the Civiblog system”)
Setting up a blog in an existing community usually takes just a few minutes. You pick a
user-name and password and with a few clicks the blog is up and running. Some commu-
nities charge, some don’t.
This method is best if you want to set up just a “view only” blog. It doesn’t cost much (at
most a few euros a month) and is straightforward and quick and you benefit from the traf-
fic the community generates or from it being already well-known.
But snags include often limited options for layout and sophisticated features, as well as
community-run ads and the risk of the community closing.
11 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
USING BLOG TOOLS
These are programmes that are installed on a server, using scripts to run the site
automatically and a database to store posted material. Once installed, it operates
through a standard online navigator. No special expertise, such as using HTML, is needed
to set up and run a blog, but installing and configuring it is sometimes tricky (setting access
criteria, creating a database and arranging FTP loading).
This solution is for people already familiar with blogs and has the advantage that it entirely
belongs to you and you can therefore adapt, configure and alter it whenever you want. But
it does requite some technical skill, is also more exposed (to spam comments) and you
have to store the contents yourself.
HOW TO CHOOSE A BLOG COMMUNITY ?
It’s not always easy to move from one blog community to another, so it’s important to
make a good choice in the first place.
Before choosing one, consider these points:
OTHER BLOGS IN A COMMUNITY
Some communities group Internet users according to interests or age. Have a look
at several dozen other blogs in a community to see if it has a “typical” group.
WHAT THE BLOG LOOKS LIKE
Though the choice is often small, communities (platforms) usually have a fair
range of colours, fonts and home-page layouts to choose from. You can get a
good idea of the possibilities there too by looking at some of the community’s
sites at random. Many free-of-charge communities require all blogs to carry ads
on all pages. Also check options for the blog’s address, which could be
http://myblog.thecommunity.com, http://www.thecommunity.com/myblog or

http://www.thecommunity.com/mynumber.

FEATURES ON OFFER
Check these to see if you’ll be able to redesign the blog, bring in other
contributors, post images or sound, post things by phone or restrict access
(totally or partially) to registered users. Also find out if posted material can be
easily forwarded to another community and if you can insert paid ads to make money.
HIDDEN COSTS
Some communities are free but have to be paid for after a certain point,
especially according to the amount of data stored and the bandwidth used.
Check this beforehand.
12 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
INTERNATIONAL PLATFORMS
Blogger – http://www.blogger.com
Free.
Set up in 1999, bought by Google in 2003 and the biggest one of all, with eight
million blogs. Easy to use but features rather limited.
LiveJournal – http://www.livejournal.com
Free or paid (about $2 a month).
One of the oldest platforms, with six million blogs, mostly young people.
MSN Spaces – http://www.msnspaces.com
Free.
Microsoft platform, set up in late 2004. Lots of features, some beyond the blog
(photo-sharing, Messenger link). Must be aged at least 13 to register a blog.
FRENCH-LANGUAGE PLATFORMS
20six – http://www.20six.fr
Free or paid (ê 3-7 a month).
Lots of features, some quite sophisticated and including basic version.
Over-Blog – http://www.over-blog.com
Free.
Well-designed and easy to use.
Skyblog – http://www.skyblog.com
Free (with ads).
The biggest platform in France, very popular with young people, though features
sometimes limited.
TypePad – http://www.typepad.com/sitefr
Paid (5-15 euros a month, according to number of features).
Very professional with good range of features.
A free version can be had through blog communities set up by third-parties, such
as Noos (http://www.noosblog.fr) or Neuf Telecom (http://www.neufblog.com).
ViaBloga – http://viabloga.com
Free for non-profit associations, or 5 euros a month.
Original and dynamic, with some unusual features.
13 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
MAJOR BLOG TOOLS
DotClear – http://www.dotclear.net
MovableType – http://www.movabletype.org
Wordpress – http://www.wordpress.org
Lemondedublog.com is an daily update about the world of blogs and blogging
14 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
My blog
GETTING GOING AND KEEPING UP TO DATE
HOW
TO SET UP AND RUN
A BLOG
The WordPress system (www.wordpress.org)
w
ordpress is very simple to use but requires to download a software to access
the blog platform (it’s a “blogware”). WordPress is an “Opensource” project,
which means that everyone can improve it through comments or suggestions.
It is however necessary to gather information on WordPress security and privacy settings
if you want to blog anonymously (cf.”How to blog anonymously”).
THE WORDPRESS HOMEPAGE
Wordpress is available in more than 120 lan-
guages (http://wordpress.com/languages/-
). Each time you post an article, the platform
is upadted through the RSS feeds.
17 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
SIGNING UP
You have to register before you set up a
blog. Most blog platforms make it very
simple. WordPress requires just basic
details (login, password and e-mail
address), and allows to blog anony-
mously. Access codes needed to
launch the blog are e-mailed to the blogger.
ADMINISTRATION LOG-IN
A blog has a “front end” (the page
where visitors go) and a “back end,”
from where it’s updated, monitored
and run and which is accessed with
the user-name and password you get
when you sign up.
18 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
DASHBOARD
Most blogs have a “dashboard,” where
you can see at a glance everything
happening on the blog, including the
latest posts, comments and track-
backs. You can access all the blog’s
features from here and change how it
looks, increase bandwidth, edit old
posts and manage your users and their
permissions, such as their right to post
comments.
HOW TO POST
One of the big differences between a
blog and a normal webpage is that it’s
easier to update a blog. Most platforms
allow you to type posts in plain text
without bothering about layout.
With WordPress, you can change
fonts, sizes and colours and insert
links and pictures.
You post something by:
1. Logging in.
2. Clicking on “write.”
3. Giving your post a name and typing
the content in.
4. Formatting the text by using the
interface.
5. Giving the post a category (so it
can be grouped with similar ones) or
creating a new category.
6. Clicking on “save” at the bottom of
the page. Your article is in your “drafts”
19 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
7. click on “publish” to put it online. Be care-
ful! If you want to blog anonymously, change
the “timestamp” before publishing your post
online. This way, you won’t be related to this
article if you post it from an controlled
Internet cafe.
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
That’s all. With a bit of experience, you can start using other features such as “PINGS”
A ping is a protocol that sends a message to another computer and waits for acknowledg-
ment, often used to check if another computer on a network is reachable. They are essen-
tial to alert people on every update of your blog. But they can be dangerous to those who
want to blog anonymously if they don’t use a tool that can modify their IP address.
HOW TO PUBLISH A VIDEO
Publishing a video online makes your blog more attractiv.There are two ways of publishing
a video. If you have the video file on your computer, you’ll have to subscribe to the
Wordpress paying version and use WordPress video player. If the video is already online
(on Youtube for example), click on “video” and add the link it is related to.
TRACKBACKS
It’s easy to add a trackback to your post. You just add the permanent URL of the
site you’re referencing in the right-hand box marked “Sen a trackback to” and the
trackback will automatically be sent to the site when you save the post.
20 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
LINK YOUR FAVOURITE WEBSITES TO YOUR BLOG
Click on “blogroll” and add the Internet addresses you want to be on your blog
There are many websites about blogging. Here are some addresses :
How to blog:

http://blogging.typepad.com/how_to_blog

The blogosphere:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere

The Weblog Workshop:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/globalvoices/wiki/index.php/WeblogWorkshop

Blogging 101:

http://www.unc.edu/%7Ezuiker/blogging101/index.html

21 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Dan Gillmor
The people were hungry in the streets and the police were after them
ONLINE PRINCIPLES
WHAT ETHICS
SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
By Dan Gillmor
N
ot all bloggers do journalism. Most do not. But when they do, they should
be ethical.
Does this mean they must subscribe to some kind of ethical code? Not necessarily.
The professional journalism world is awash in ethics codes. Some are longer than the
United States Constitution, trying to anticipate every possible breach. Others are short and
succinct, offering more positive guidance. The cyber-journalist Website has adapted for
bloggers an ethics code (http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php) from the
Society of Professional Journalists, an American group. It is a solid and worthy effort.
All ethics codes are created for one essential purpose: to instill trust. If a reader (or viewer
or listener) cannot trust the report, there is usually little reason to bother in the first place.
The exception, of course, is looking at material that is known to be unethical, as much for
instructional purposes – we can learn a great deal from watching unethical people’s
behavior – as to gain true knowledge.
For me, ethics is about something quite simple: honor. Within that word, however, is a
great deal of territory. But unless we act with honor we cannot expect people’s trust.
In American journalism, trust is often associated with a standard we call “objectivity” – the
idea that an article should offer balance and nuance, giving the reader the chance to make
up his or her own mind. I believe objectivity is a worthy but unattainable goal, because we
all bring our own biases to everything we do.
In a world of new journalism, where we shift from a lecture to much more of a conversation,
ethical journalism depends less on codes of ethics than the values and principles that are
a foundation for honorable journalism.
There are pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, transparency and
independence.
23 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
The lines separating them are not always clear. They are open to wide interpretation, and
are therefore loaded with nuance in themselves. But I think they are a useful way to
approach ethical journalism, and they are notably easier to achieve in an online setting.
Let’s look at each.
THOROUGHNESS
When I was a reporter and, later, a columnist, my first goal was to learn as much as I could.
After all, gathering facts and opinions is the foundation of reporting. I liked it best when
I felt I had left 95 percent of what I’d learned out of the final piece. The best reporters
I know always want to make one more call, check with one more source. (The last question
I ask at all interviews is, “Who else should I talk with about this?”
Today, thoroughness means more than asking questions of the people in our address
books, real or virtual. It means, whenever possible, asking our readers for their input, as
I did when I wrote a book on grassroots journalism in 2004 (and as other authors are
beginning to do in theirs). Competitive pressures tend to make this a rare request, but I’m
convinced that more journalists will adopt it.
ACCURACY
Be factual.
Say what you don’t know, not just what you do. (If the reader/listener/viewer does know
what you don’t, you’ve just invited him/her to fill you in.)
Accuracy means correcting what you get wrong, and doing it promptly. This is much easier
online, where we can mitigate or at least limit the damage from our errors for new readers.
FAIRNESS
This one is as difficult, in practice, as accuracy is simple. Fairness is often in the eye of the
beholder. But even here I think a few principles may universally apply.
Fairness means, among other things, listening to different viewpoints, and incorporating
them into the journalism. It does not mean parroting lies or distortions to achieve that lazy
equivalence that leads some journalists to get opposing quotes when the facts overwhelm-
ingly support one side.
Fairness is also about letting people respond when they believe you are wrong, even if you
do not agree. Again, this is much easier online than in a print publication, much less a
broadcast.
Ultimately, fairness emerges from a state of mind. We should be aware of what drives us,
and always be willing to listen to those who disagree. The first rule of having a conversation
is to listen – and I know I learn more from people who think I’m wrong than from those
who agree with me.
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WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
TRANSPARENCY
Disclosure is gaining currency as an addition to journalism. It’s easier said than done, of
course.
No one can plausibly argue with the idea that journalists need to disclose certain things,
such as financial conflicts of interest. But to what extent? Should journalists of all kinds be
expected to make their lives open books? How open?
Personal biases, even unconscious ones, affect the journalism as well. I’m an American,
brought up in with certain beliefs that many folks in other lands (and some in the United
States) flatly reject. I need to be aware of the things I take for granted, and periodically
challenge some of them, as I do my work.
Another way to be transparent is how we present a story. We should link to source material
as much as possible, bolstering what we tell people with close-to-the-ground facts and
data. (Maybe this is part of accuracy or thoroughness, but it seems to fit here, too.)
INDEPENDENCE
Honorable journalism means following the story where it leads. When media are consolidated
into a few big companies or are under the thumb of governments, this cannot happen.
It is simple to be independent online. Just start a blog. But no one should imagine that the
same pressures from businesses and governments will not apply when a blogger tries to
make a living at his or her new trade.
Jeff Jarvis, a prominent American blogger (buzzmachine.com), adds several other ideals.
Bloggers must value the ethic of the conversation. He notes what for me is a bottom line
of this new world: that conversation leads to understanding.
In a conversation, the first rule is to listen. Ethics requires listening, because it is how we
learn.
His blog:

http://bayosphere.com/blog/dangillmor

25 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Dan Gillmor is founder of Grassroots
Media Inc., a company aimed at enabling
grassroots journalism and expanding its
reach. Its first site is Bayosphere.com in
the San Francisco Bay Area. He is author
of “We the Media:
Grassroots Journalism by the People, for
the People” (O’Reilly Media, 2004).
USEFUL TIPS
GETTING YOUR BLOG
PICKED UP
BY SEARCH-ENGINES
By Olivier Andrieu
B
logs are websites themselves, so they’re picked up by search-engines like
Google, Yahoo! Search or MSN Search. To be successful, a blog has to get good
visibility on their results pages through major keywords. So a site has to be
designed from the start to react to the mechanical classification criteria these engines use.
Blogs have several built-in characteristics that get them often picked up by search-engines,
well-listed and placed in a prominent position on results pages.
• Because they are personal diaries (at least at the beginning), they usually have a lot of
text which helps them get picked up. Search-engines don’t pick up sites with a lot of
graphics or Flash animations but not much text.
• Each “post” usually occupies a single page, accessible through a “permalink” and dea-
ling with a single subject, and is much more often picked up by search-engines than long
pages about many different topics (such as archives or a blog homepage).
• The heading of a post is usually reproduced in the page heading or the URL (address).
For example, on the Radio Free Nepal blog, at http://freenepal.blogspot.com, each post
is on a page of its own, such as http://freenepal.blogspot.com/2005/04/state-vanda-
lism-in-nepal.html:
26 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
The heading of the post (State Vandalism in Nepal) occurs not just in the page URL but
also in the heading of the document, as follows :
So the post heading has been added after the blog’s name, which appears alone on the
blog’s homepage (http://freenepal.blogspot.com).
The presence of descriptive keywords in the page headings
(the content of the <TITLE> tag in HTML language) and in the
URLs of these documents are key criteria for search-engines,
so it’s very important to choose post headings carefully to
ensure they get picked up.
• Links are automatically created, especially to archives, and
are text (see examples on the right of the Radio Free Nepal
pages).
This is very good for getting picked up because the text
content of the links (called “anchors”) is key to the relevance
of pages the links point to from the search-engines. So in the
example here, the presence of the words “State Vandalism in
Nepal” in the first link or “Radio Free Nepal” in the 9th boosts the relevance of the page
indicated by the link for these terms. Also, the page with these links (the clickable text is
detected as important by search-engines) and the page indicated by them will be
considered relevant.
HOW TO GET A BLOG PICKED UP MORE
27 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
Blogs have many inbuilt advantages to get them picked up frequently. Once a search-engine
has “found” the blog, either by it being submitted manually or by search-engine “spiders”
following links, a blog will have much more chance than a standard website of being
displayed prominently because of its natural advantages. But you should try to increase
this visibility by going a bit further.
Here are some tips on how to do this, using major keywords drawn from the topic of your blog.
1. Focus on technology that helps getting picked up
If your site isn’t yet online, be careful what technology (such as Blogger, Dotclear,
BlogSpirit, Joueb and many others) you use to put it there. Choose the one that includes
the maximum details for getting picked up:
• The heading of the post must be fully reproduced in the page heading (the <TITLE> tag)
as well as in its URL (which isn’t always done, since in the address some tools truncate the
post heading after a certain number of characters).
• Creation of “permalinks” (links to a page containing a single post) must be possible.
• The technology chosen must allow you to do as much as possible in the design and
personalisation of your site, such as using your own graphics and personal style-sheets.
You must learn how to do as many technical things as possible so you can use the maxi-
mum number of factors to help the site get picked up.
To check all these points, have a look at sites using the technology you’re considering (you
can always find a big enough sample there) and see how they’re displayed. You’ll learn
quite a lot this way.
2. Choose the best headings for your posts
This is very important. The heading of your post will be reproduced in the heading of the
single pages displaying your posts, in their URLs and in the text of links that point to them
– three key places for search-engines. So the post headings must contain, in a few words,
the most important terms, to allow them to be picked up. Avoid headings such as “Well
said!” “Welcome!” or “Great!” The heading should describe or sum up in less than five
words what can be found in the post that follows. Think of the words you’d like a search-
engine to pick up from it and put them in the heading. Not so easy, perhaps, but very
effective.
3. Provide the text
Search-engines love text, so provide it for them. You can post all the photos you want as long
as they go with text. Try to make each post at least 200 words long so it’ll have a good chance
of being easily spotted by search-engines. Also avoid having several very different topics in
the same post, as search-engines don’t like that. The golden rule is one topic, one post.
4. Pay attention to the first paragraph of your posts
28 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
The position of important words in the text is also crucial. Take great care with your first
paragraph. If you want to be picked up with the words “release hostages,” for example,
put them among the first 50 in the post. The same goes for all the keywords you choose.
A page with them at the beginning always gets better search-engine results than if they’re
at the end (all other things being equal). Stress these words, by putting them in bold for
example. This signals to the search-engine that they’re important.
5. Avoid duplicate content in a post
All search-engines have ways to detect duplicate content and if two pages are over-similar,
only one of them will be spotted and the other rarely displayed on a results page. Google,
for example, displays this message:
(( In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar
to those already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results
included. ))
This often happens with blogs, as the pages containing each post can appear very similar.
For example, if you have an identical introduction on each page, either put it at the bottom
or just on the home page, so as to make all your pages very different from each other.
6. Don’t give your blog a title that’s too long.
The best title (the content of the tag <TITLE>) for search-engines is between 5 and 10
words long, not counting “stop words” such as “the” or “and.” The page heading of a blog
usually has two parts:
• The general title of the blog
• A repeat of the heading of the post.
So as not to exceed 10 words in the general heading of pages presenting each post, you
should use no more than five words for the general title of the blog and five for the hea-
ding of the post. That’s not very much, but being concise as well as informative is one of
the keys to getting picked up easily by search-engines.
If you can (not all technologies allow you to do it), put the heading of the post at the top
and the general title of the blog afterwards, rather than the other way round.
29 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
7. Syndicate your blog
Most blog tools allow you to create an “XML thread” or “RSS feed” with which users can
pick up your posts in suitable software format. You can offer this facility on your blog (it
only takes a few minutes to install). You’ll not only get more visitors but on Yahoo!, it’ll be
indicated prominently as shown: (( View as XML )).
So make use of this.
8. Keep your links updated
Links are very important for search-engines because they allow them to compile a popu-
larity rating (called PageRank by Google) of webpages. So build up the number of links to
your blog by:
• Inserting it in directories (see below).
• Looking for “cousin sites” that aren’t rivals but offer material on the same topic.
Exchanging links between blogs in the same area of interest should be sought as quickly
as possible (this is quite frequently done and approved of in the blogging community,
which is another advantage of blogs). Blogs are also well-suited for this, as the margin is
often empty and they can be posted there.
FEATURING IN TOPIC DIRECTORIES
Featuring in general-interest search-engines (such as Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Exalead)
and directories (such as Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory) is very important but
getting featured by topic is too because it:
• generates more focused visitors.
• increases the number of links to your blog, which is good for your popularity.
• gets you known by other blog publishers who might want to exchange links
with similar sites.
30 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
Among the many search tools (search-engines and directories) that pick up blogs, are:
English-language Blogwise : http://www.blogwise.com/
Daypop : http://www.daypop.com/
Feedster : http://www.feedster.com/
Technorati : http://www.technorati.com/
Waypath : http://www.waypath.com/
Blogarama : http://www.blogarama.com/
Syndic8 : http://www.syndic8.com/
French-language Blogonautes http://www.blogonautes.com/
Blogolist http://www.blogolist.com/
Weblogues http://www.weblogues.com/
Blogarea http://www.blogarea.net/Links/
Pointblog http://www.pointblog.com/
Les Pages Joueb http://pages.joueb.com/
A bigger list is at :

http://search-engines.blogs.com/mon_weblog/2005/05/les_search-engines_de_.html

Also have a look at the directories of each technology provider, such as :

http://www.canalblog.com/cf/browseBlogs.cfm

http://www.dotclear.net/users.html

http://www.blogspirit.com/fr/communautes_blogspirit.html

CONCLUSION
A blog has all the elements for getting easily picked up by search-engines. With the tips
given here, you should get very good results and increase your blog’s visibility. So off you
go – and remember that “content is king.”
Olivier Andrieu is a freelance Internet consultant specialising in getting sites picked up by search-engines.
He also runs the website www.abondance.com.
31 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Make oneself stand out
HOW TO STAND OUT
WHAT REALLY MAKES
A BLOG SHINE
By Mark Glaser
I
n the billions and billions of words posted by the millions of blogs worldwide,
what makes one particular blog stand out from the teeming mass? What puts
the blog writer into a special class, makes readers return day after day and
brings accolades from the media?
It’s connection. Successful bloggers are those who connect with their readers, whether 10
or 10,000 people, by entertaining or enlightening them. Many people like to draw boun-
daries between bloggers and other writers (journalists, novelists, marketers) but their goals
are similar: grab people by the collar and don’t let go.
Some of the bloggers writing in this handbook – Bahrain’s Chan’ad Bahraini, Hong Kong’s
Yan Sham-Shackleton and Iran’s Arash Sigarchi – blog in countries where the government
is watching their words very carefully. And the world is watching them as well, to learn
about stories the press in their countries dare not tell. In these places, freedom of speech
and freedom of the press are in danger, and bloggers’ voices online are an important link
to the reality on the streets of their towns. The photos they take and the stories they tell
are vital.
But what makes these and other noteworthy blogs shine? Here are some of their main
attributes, the things that set them apart from all those millions of other blogs.
A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL VOICE
The best bloggers talk in their own voice, celebrate their unique identity and tell the
stories that are real to them. Weblogs come from the idea of an online journal, a personal
journal, so it’s important to remember that journaling is not like academic writing, not like
impersonal writing for a wire service. Chan’ad Bahraini is the pseudonym of an Asian blogger
located in the mainly Arab country of Bahrain, giving him an unusual perspective on
events there. Yan Sham-Shackleton is a performance artist who has lived all over the world
and helped run a protest against China blocking the TypePad blog sites – after several
years earlier herself helping the Chinese authorities to filter the Net.
33 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE
KEEP IT CURRENT
The biggest problem with the vast majority of blogs is that they are stale. Because most
people are not paid to blog, it takes a while to integrate blogging into their daily routine.
Many people start to blog, try it out, and then never have the time to update it. To be suc-
cessful, bloggers must keep writing posts on a regular basis and stay up on the topics that
interest them, including current affairs. That doesn’t mean they have to post 12 times
every day, but a few weeks off can kill a blog’s audience.
CONNECT WITH AND EMPOWER READERS
One of the distinguishing features of blogs is interactivity. There are many ways to engage
your readers, involve them in the conversation and utilize their feedback. You could run
an online poll, or give them your e-mail address, or just enable comments under each pos-
ting. Jeff Ooi was threatened by the Malaysian authorities because of a comment made by
one of his readers. Rather than take all comments off his blog, Ooi decided to moderate
comments to make sure readers stayed on topic and would stand by their words. He also
started up a Chinese-language blog called “The Ferryman” as a way to build a bridge bet-
ween the Malaysian and Chinese blogospheres.
34 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE
TELL TRUTH TO POWER
While many blogs include commentary, some also include original old-fashioned reporting.
There’s no right way to do it, but having either original reporting or an original angle on a
story helps set your blog apart. Chan’ad Bahraini offered photos and audio of protests in
Bahrain when an activist was jailed in November 2004. And blogger Arash Sigarchi was
arrested in Iran and sentenced to 14 years in prison for criticizing the hard-line regime’s
arrests of other journalists. He was later freed after paying a fine, but his case is under
appeal. The key is that these bloggers and so many others have spoken truth to power,
and had the courage to stand up as a collective blogosphere to authorities that would
rather hide the truth.
Mark Glaser is a columnist for Online
Journalism Review (www.ojr.org), a publication
produced by the University of Southern
California’s
Annenberg
School
of
Communication. He is a freelance writer based
in San Francisco. You can reach him at
glaze@sprintmail.com
35 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNTS
SWITZERLAND
EGYPT
THAILAND
PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
SWITZERLAND
PHOTOS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
By Picidae
o
n the Internet, we are used to dealing with text so we have chosen to take the
Internet’s photo.
This sign is symbol of Picidae.
Choose: it’s a stylised camera or a
breach in a wall.
“Picidae” comes from the Latin word
meaning “peak”. We wanted it to refer to
the pickaxes that the East Germans used
to destroy the Berlin Wall. But this sign
also represents the way our project
works: photographing the Internet to get round censorship.
It is first and foremost an artistic project. To look at the world through this breach is to
question what it is like behind the wall. It’s a new way of understanding. Picidae is a new
strategy: to find a way of getting round censorship which cannot be filtered or censored.
This tool works for the whole network and was thought up to be based on a community
of Internet-users. As the Internet is not centralised, it allows exchanges in complete free-
dom. That is why our project is based on an exchange of data. If certain people have their
Internet access cut, Picidae will be able to use other points of access and will never be
interrupted. It’s also a communication platform which will allow everyone to improve tech-
nically.
We have set up “pici” servers, which allow the user to connect to the Internet via a com-
puter which is not their own. If the user goes to a pici server, a form will come up and he
can enter a web address on it. The pici server then creates a screenshot of the website
37 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / SWITZERLAND
and sends it to you. To make surfing possible from this image, the server will analyse the
website and integrate an exact copy with clickable areas instead of links. All the Internet
links are then reproduced (menu bar, functions, search etc.) It is then possible to click on
the links in the same way as on a “real” website.
In taking these images, picidae codes websites which means there is no chance of suc-
cess for “key word” filtering. And to avoid the word “picidae” being filtered we have cho-
sen a symbol which is not from any particular language. The image is universal and can
thwart filtering.
To prevent censorship of requests by users on a pici server, the data entered in the forms
are encrypted before being sent. Censorship systems cannot therefore know what an indi-
vidual is researching, thus foiling government control.
We have tested our project in China. This journey to the ends of the Internet has shown
us the extent to which censorship is hidden. Cyber-cafés are under surveillance and the
38 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / SWITZERLAND
network is ultra-filtered. News
about Tibet, Taiwan, political criti-
cism and human rights are censo-
red. One of the most important
aspects of Picidae is to make censorship visible. Using pici based in Zürich, we have been
able to get access to the websites we want. Picidae is currently used in China and in
Europe and we plan on exporting it to Arab countries and to North Africa. The system is
free and requires no installation, login or password.
Creators of the project are Christoph Wachter and Mathias Judt.
For further information http://www.picidae.net
Pici Server: http://pici.picidae.net/
Proxies are also available: contact@picidae.com: picidae is a decentralised system and
does not need to be accessible through centralised data. Each point of access or server
works independently from others and does not contain a name or description to avoid
censorship.
39 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
EGYPT
WHEN THE LINE BETWEEN JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST DISAPPEARS
By Wael Abbas
B
logging has allowed the limits of press freedom to be pushed back in Egypt
as well as those of freedom in general. Some even consider that bloggers
achieved in a few days what human rights organisations have failed to do in
ten years.
By the end of 2004, movements demanding
change had seen their ranks swell in the
run-up
to
presidential
elections.
Demonstrations were held which were not
covered by the traditional media because
they were calling for the president to go.
Bloggers filled the gap, by simply posting
footage and photos to report on the situa-
tion. I was almost arrested as I tried to take
photos of police officers who tackled them.
One day, lawyers warned me that an arrest
warrant had been taken out against me
because one of the shots I had posted on
my blog that showed security agents des-
troying an Egyptian flag. But I was also accu-
sed of things I hadn’t done: assaulting the
security forces, attacking staff, ransacking
public buildings and so on. I managed to prove that they had nothing against me but the
accusations were renewed every time a demonstration was held. Ironically, I did not
take part in most of the demonstrations and I was even out of the country when they
took place.
Information relayed by bloggers comes from citizens. They revealed the crackdown
against these peaceful demonstrations, then the rigging of elections results and bruta-
lity in police stations against people not facing any charges. That is where the line bet-
ween journalist and activist disappears.
40 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / EGYPT
When I relayed the case of “Imad al-Kabir” (the
name of the prisoner) by posting footage showing
the torture of prisoners in police stations, I had the
information from citizens. It is them it comes from.
This case has been one of the great achievements
of the blogosphere because these films, only
published online, were used as evidence during
the trial of police officer Islam Nabih who was sen-
tenced to three years in prison. I am however
aware that it was the work of journalists which
uncovered the identity of the victims of torture.
They allowed some police officers to be handed
over to the courts.
The traditional media do not dare cover these sub-
jects. Before putting out news gathered by blog-
gers, they make sure that they do not embarrass
the government. But several newspapers have
occasionally tried to appropriate recordings and
photos taken by bloggers, who had them exclusi-
vely. Most of the time they do not refer to the
source. Rather than submit to this situation, blog-
gers and journalists have started working together.
A new kind of journalism has been created, which
allies the two worlds.
Personally, I am satisfied if the citizen knows that a
police officer has no right to assault him, if the vic-
tims of torture start talking about it, make com-
plaints and demand their rights. All that is new in
Egypt, because the security services have mana-
ged to instil fear into people and Egyptians are
used to suffering in silence.
Wael Abbas is one of the leading human rights
activists in Egypt. He lives in Cairo and runs a blog
(http://misrdigital.blogspirit.com) on which at the
start of 2007 he posted video footage exposing
torture of some prisoners in Cairo police stations.
This allowed the victims and the perpetrators of
these crimes to be identified but also to raise awa
41 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / EGYPT
42 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
THAILAND
THE WEB WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR BLOGGERS
By Jotman
W
I threw myself into the world of blogs in Bangkok en 2006 with my camera in
my hand. I went in a taxi to the district where army tanks were guarding the
main official buildings. It was just after midnight when I heard the throbbing
motorbikes taking the generals to power. At dawn, the photos and video footage posted
on my blog were among the first of the Thai coup to get out of the country and I conti-
nued to blog despite restrictions imposed on the Web by the military regime.
Obviously, Burma, China and other governments can always
block access to my blog through the URL address, but they could
also do it in other ways. The options on the platform I use,
Blogger, are somewhat restrictive but that’s just too bad. But if
you get too involved in the design aspect you no longer always
make it clear to Internet-users that you have something to say.
This modest interface allows me to concentrate on what I write.
Blogging as a way of talking about the everyday can assume dif-
ferent forms. Often blogging is a form of “quibbling” ” – going
through the news with a fine-tooth comb to find the tiniest impre-
cision or a nugget of wisdom. Blogging is also to inform – to post
news and show where it comes from. During the Burmese crisis in September 2007, I
became aware of the extent of the impact my blog could have in gathering news about
Burmese bloggers and their struggle. When I was trying to check out rumours about
Burmese bloggers and their standard of living, I went there and interviewed a monk. After
that I travelled to near the Thai border where I interviewed several other monks and pro-
democracy activists. But blogging is also about publishing original and multi-media
content. A blog can sometimes even be the source of a “scoop”.
Bloggers deal with important issues, but do not have enough of an audience. The Web
may very well be “as wide as the world”, but it wasn’t designed for bloggers. It only knows
how to seek and index information. What a poor tool a search engine is for attracting new
43 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / THAILANDE
readers! It has nothing in common with that good old newspaper which makes news avai-
lable to passers-by which they would certainly not have gone to look for themselves.
Everyone can read their ideal newspaper online. There is no happy chance meeting bet-
ween readers and news. Paradoxically, in this era of globalisation, events are a little more
linked to one another but the perspectives for readers are shrinking.
It is therefore necessary for good quality blogs to reach a wider audience. Several steps
have already been taken through aggregators of blogs translated into several languages
(Global Voices, WordPress and so on). Wikipedia has also contributed to giving bloggers
a certain degree of credibility. But this type of trailblazing only interests seasoned Internet-
users or those specialised in a particularly part of the world. Civil society would have much
to gain if it had this access.
Bloggers often find interesting information which would also have proved interesting for
those who do not blog, who are neither specialists nor enthusiasts. But the network hides
it away.
Jotman wants to remain anonymous. He was one of the major sources of news during the
Burmese crisis and the winner of the Best of the Blogs (BOB) awards in 2007, a blog com-
petition with which Reporters Without Borders is associated. He won his prize for his work
promoting freedom of expression.
44 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / THAILANDE
45 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
USEFUL TIPS
HOW TO BLOG
ANONYMOUSLY
Practice with Tor and WordPress
By Ethan Zuckerman
T
here are number of ways you can hide your identity when using the Internet.
Any path towards anonymity needs to consider local conditions, your own tech-
nical competence and your level of paranoia. If you’re worried that what you’re
posting could put you at risk and you’re capable of installing it, posting to a blog through
Tor is a very good idea. If you don’t really need to be anonymous, don’t be. If your name
is associated with your words, people are laikely to take your words seriously. But some
people are going to need ti be anonymous. Don’t use these techniques unless you really
need to.
And remember not to sign your blog posts with your real name !
Do you remember Sarah,who was learning the basics of anonymous blogging in 2005?
Here are some reminders…
STEP ONE – PSEUDONYMS
One easy way Sarah can hide her identity is to use a free webmail account and free blog
host outside her native country. (Using a paid account for either email or webhosting is a
poor idea, as the payment will link the account to a credit card, a checking account or
Paypal account that could be easily linked to Sarah.) She can create a new identity –
a pseudonym – when she signs up for these accounts, and when the minister finds her
blog, he’ll discover that it belongs to “A. N. Ymous”, with the email address
anonymous.whistleblower@hotmail.com.
Some providers of free webmail accounts:
Hotmail
Yahoo
Hushmail – free webmail with support for strong cryptography
Some providers of free weblog hosting:
Blogsome – free WordPress blogs
Blogger
Seo Blog
47 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY
Here’s the problem with this strategy. When Sarah signs up for an email service or a
weblog, the webserver she’s accessing logs her IP address. If that IP address can be traced
to her – if she’s using her computer at home or her computer at work – and if the email
or weblog company is forced to release that information, she could be found. It’s not a sim-
ple matter to get most web service companies to reveal this information – to get Hotmail,
for instance, to reveal the IP Sarah used to sign up for her account, the minister would
likely need to issue a subpoena, probably in cooperation with a US law enforcement
agency. But Sarah may not want to take the risk of being found if her government can per-
suade her email and weblog host to reveal her identity.
STEP TWO – PUBLIC COMPUTERS
One extra step Sarah could take to hide her identity is to begin using computers to make
her blogposts that are used by lots of other people. Rather than setting up her webmail
and weblog accounts from her home or work computer, Sarah could set them up from a
computer in a cybercafé, library or university computer lab. When the minister traces the
IP used to post a comment or item, he’ll find the post was made from a cybercafé, where
any number of people might have been using the computers.
There are flaws in this strategy as well. If the cybercafé or computer lab keeps track of who
is using what computer at what time, Sarah’s identity could be compromised. She shouldn’t
try to post in the middle of the night when she’s the only person in the computer lab –
the geek on duty is likely to remember who she is. And she should change cybercafés
often. If the minister discovers that all the whistleblower’s posts are coming from “Joe’s
Beer and Bits”on Main Street, he might stake someone out to watch the cybercafé and
see who’s posting to blogs in the hope of catching Sarah.
STEP THREE – ANONYMOUS PROXIES
Sarah’s getting sick of walking to Joe’s cybercafé every time she wants to post to her blog.
With some help from the neighborhood geek, she sets up her computer to access the web
through an anonymous proxy. Now, when she uses her webmail and weblog services,
she’ll leave behind the IP address of the proxy server, not the address of her home
machine… which will make it very hard for the minister to find her.
First, she finds a list of proxy servers online, by searching for “proxy server” on Google.
She picks a proxy server from the publicproxyservers.com list, choosing a site marked
“high anonymity”. She writes down the IP address of the proxy and the port listed on the
proxy list.
Some reliable lists of public proxies:
• publicproxyservers.com – anonymous and non-anonymous proxies.
• Samair (http://www.samair.ru/proxy/) – only anonymous proxies, and includes
information on proxies that support SSL.
• rosinstrument proxy database (http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/) – searchable
48 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY
database of proxy servers.
Then she opens the “preferences” section of her web browser. Under “general”, “net-
work” or “security” (usually), she finds an option to set up a proxy to access the Internet.
(On the Firefox browser, this option is found under Preferences – General – Connection
Settings.)
She turns on “manual proxy configuration”, enters the IP address of the proxy server and
port into the fields for HTTP proxy and SSL proxy and saves her settings. She restarts her
browser and starts surfing the web.
She notices that her connection to the web seems a bit slower. That’s because every page
she requests from a webserver takes a detour. Instead of connecting directly to
hotmail.com, she connects to the proxy, which then connects to Hotmail. When Hotmail
sends a page to her, it goes to the proxy first, then to her. She also notices she has some
trouble accessing websites, especially those that want her to log in. But at least her IP isn’t
being recorded by her weblog provider.
Sarah has another problem if she’s one of very few people in the country using a proxy.
If the comments on her blog can be traced to a single proxy server, and if the minister can
access logs from all the ISPs within a country, he might be able to discover that Sarah’s
computer was one of the very few that accessed a specific proxy server. He can’t demon-
strate that Sarah used the proxy to post to a weblog server, but he might conclude that
the fact that the proxy was used to make a weblog post and that she was one of the few
people in the nation to use that proxy constituted evidence that she made the post. Sarah
would do well to use proxies that are popular locally and to switch proxies often.
Here is today how Sarah’s problems can be resolved through blogging with Tor and
Wordpress.
STEP ONE : DISGUISE YOU IP ADDRESS
Every computer on the internet has or shares an IP address. These addresses aren’t the
same hing as physical address, but they can lead a smart system administrator to your
physical address. Sarah feared that her identity would be discovered for the webserver
she was accessing logs her IP address.
Thus :
1. Install Firefox
Download it at the Mozilla site (htt://www.mozilla.org) and install it on the main machine
you blog from.
Why Firefox rather than Internet Explorer? Explorer has some egregious security holas that
can
compromise
your
online
security
(http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/12/internet_explor.html).
49 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY
2. Install TOR
Download the programm from the Tor site : http://www.torproject.org/
(If access to Tor main website is blocked in your country, there are a few mirrors of it in
other
places
where
it
can
also
be
downloaded
from
(http://www.torproject.org/mirrors.html.en):

http://tor.cybermirror.org/

http://tor.zdg-gmbh.eu/

http://tor.anonymity.cn/

Pick the “latest stable release” for your platform and download it onto your desktop.
Follow the instructions that are linked to the right of the release you downloaded.
Tor is a very sophisticated network of proxy servers. Proxy servers request a web page on
your behalf, which means that the web server doesn’t see the IP address of the compu-
ter requesting the webpage. When you access Tor, you’re using three different proxy ser-
vers to retrieve each webpage. The pages are encrypted in transit between servers, and
even if one or two of the servers in the chain were compromised, it would be very diffi-
cult to see what webpage you were retrieving or posting to.
Tor installs another piece of software, Privoxy, which increases the security settings on
your browser, blocking cookies and other pieces of tracking software. Conveniently, it also
blocks many ads you encounter on webpages.
3. Install Torbutton
Turning on Tor by hand means remembering to change your browser preferences to use
a proxy server. This is a multistep process, which people sometimes forget to do.
Torbutton makes the process a single mouse click and reminds you whether you’re using
Tor or not, which can be very helpful.
if you’re going to be writing primarily from shared computers (like cybercafe computers)
or you’re unable to install software on a computer. Download XeroBank Browser (xB
Browser) or alternatively Tor on a Stick (ToaSt).
XeroBank is a highly customized version of the Firefox browser with Tor and Privoxy
already installed. It’s designed to be placed on a USB key so that you can access Tor from
shared computers that don’t permit you to install software.
Download the package from the xB Browser site onto a computer where you can save
files. Insert your USB key and copy the xB-Browser.exe onto the key. Using this USB key
and any Windows computer where you can insert a USB key, you can access a Tor-pro-
tected browser. On this shared computer, quit the existing web browser. Insert the key,
find the key’s filesystem on the Desktop, and double-click the xB-Browser_latest.exe. This
will launch a new browser which accesses the web through Tor.
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Test that XeroBank Browser is working by visiting the Tor test site with the Tor-enabled
browser and making sure you get a “Your IP is identified to be a Tor-EXIT” message.
STEP 2 : GENERATE A NEW, HARD TO TRACE EMAIL ACCOUNT
Most web services – including blog hosting services – require an email address so that they
communicate with their users. For our purposes, this email address can’t connect to any
personally identifiable information, including the IP address we used to sign up for the ser-
vice. This means we need a new account which we sign up for using Tor, and we need to
ensure that none of the data we use – name, address, etc. – can be linked to us. You should
NOT use an existing email account – it’s very likely that you signed up for the account from
an undisguised IP, and most webmail providers store the IP address you signed up under.
webmail providers store the IP address you signed up under.
1. Choose a webmail provider
Hushmail, Vaultletsoft and Gmail, but as long as you’re using Tor, you could use Yahoo or
Hotmail as well. Also, you can easily register a free and quick webmail account with fast-
mail.fm.
Hotmail and Yahoo mail both have a “security feature” that makes privacy advocates very
unhappy. Both include the IP address of the computer used to send any email. This isn’t
relevant when you’re accessing those services through Tor, since the IP address will be a
Tor IP address, rather than your IP address. Also, Hotmail and Yahoo don’t offer secure
HTTP (https) interfaces to webmail – again, this doesn’t matter so long as you use Tor every
time you use these mail services. But many users will want to check their mail in circums-
tances where they don’t have Tor installed – for your main webmail account, it’s worth
choosing a provider that has an https interface to mail.
Hushmail provides webmail with a very high degree of security. Their interface to webmail
uses https and they don’t include the sending IP in outgoing emails. But they’re a for-pro-
fit service and they offer only limited services to non-paying users. If you sign up for a free
account, you have to log into it every couple of weeks to make sure the system doesn’t
delete it. Because they’re aggressive about trying to convert free users to paid users, and
because their system uses a lot of Java applets, some find that Hushmail isn’t the right
choice for them.
Gmail, while it doesn’t advertise itself as a secure mail service, has some nice security fea-
turesbuilt in. If you visit this special URL, your entire session with Gmail will be encrypted
via https.
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2. Register your new account
Don’t use any personally identifiable information – consider becoming a boringly named
individual in a country with a lot of web users, like the US or the UK. Set a good, strong
password (at least eight characters, include at least one number or special character) for
the account and set a good, strong password, at least eight characters, include at least one
number or special character.
Choose a username similar to what you’re going to name your blog.
3. Test if it works!
Make sure you’re able to log onto the mail service and send mail while Tor is enabled. It
is most likely that Tor changes its circuit every 10 minutes and this could disrupt your web-
mail operations, so you should consider limiting the process of writing a new email to 10
minutes.
STEP 3 : REGISTER YOUR NEW ANONYMOUS BLOG
You’ll have to be very careful by creating that blog. It requires more attention and caution
than creating a non anonymous blog.
TURN TOR ON IN YOUR BROWSER, OR START XEROBANK
Visit WordPress.com and sign up for a new account by clicking the “Get a New WordPress
Blog” link. Use the email address you just c r e a t ed and c r e a t e a us e rname tha t wi
l l be pa r t of your blog addr e s s : thenameyouchoose.wordpress.com
Wordpress will send an activation link to your webmail account. Use your Tor-enabled
browser to retrieve the mail and follow that activation link. This lets WordPress know
you’ve used a live email account and that they can reach you with updates to their service
- as a result, they’ll make your blog publicly viewable and send you your password. You’ll
need to check your webmail again to retrieve this password.
Still using Tor, log into your new blog using your username and password. Click on “My
Dashboard”, then on “Update your profile or change your password.” Change your pass-
word to a strong password that you can remember. Feel free to add information to your
profile as well… just make sure none of that information is linked to you!
STEP 4 : POST TO YOU BLOG
Write your blog post offline. Not only is this a good way to keep from losing a post if your
browser crashes or your net connection goes down, it means you can compose your
posts somewhere more private than a cybercafe. A simple editor, like Wordpad for
Windows, is usually the best to use. Save your posts as text files (After blogging, always
remember to remove these files from your machine completely, using a tool like Eraser or
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Ccleaner which is is available in many languages and wipes te porary files automatically
from all installed browsers and other applications).
Turn on Tor, or use XeroBank, and log onto WordPress.com. Click the “write” button to
write a new post. Cut and paste the post from your text file to the post window. Give the
post a title and put it into whatever categories you want to use.
Before you hit “Publish”, there’s one key step. Click on the blue bar on the right of the
screen that says “Post Timestamp.” Click the checkbox that says “Edit Timestamp”. Choose
a time a few minutes in the future – ideally, pick a random interval and use a different num-
ber each time. This will put a variable delay on the time your post will actually appear on
the site WordPress won’t put the post up until it reaches the time you’ve specified.
By changing the timestamp of the posts, we make an attack more difficult for the internet
service provider. Now they’d need access to the logs of the WordPress server as well,
which are
much harder to get than their own logs. It’s a very easy step to take that increases your
security.
STEP 5 : COVER YOUR TRACKS
Securely erase the rough drafts of the post you made from your laptop or home machine.
If you used a USB key to bring the post to the cybercafe, you’ll need to erase that, too. It’s
not sufficient to move the file to the trash and empty the trash – you need to use a secure
erasing tool like Eraser or Ccleaner which overwrites the old file with data that makes it
impossible to retrieve. On a Macintosh, this functionality is built it – bring a file to the trash
and choose “Secure Empty Trash” from the Finder Menu.
Clear your browser history, cookies and passwords from Firefox. Under the Tools menu,
select “Clear Private Data”. Check all the checkboxes and hit “okay”. You might want to set
up Firefox so that it automatically clears your data when you quit – you can do this under
“Firefox -> Preferences -> Privacy -> Settings”. Choose the checkbox that says “Clear pri-
vate data when closing Firefox”. In case you cannot install programs on the computer, use
the IE Privacy Cleaner tool from the USB stick to wipe temp browser data.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN
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Ethan Zuckerman is a fellow at the Berkman Center for
Internet and Society at Harvard Law School where his
research focuses on the relationship between citizen jour-
nalism and conventional media, especially in the develo-
ping world. He’s a founder and former director of
Geekcorps, a non-profit organization that focuses on tech-
nology training in the developing world, and was one of
the founders of webhosting company Tripod.
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USEFUL TIPS
TECHNICAL WAYS
TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
By Nart Villeneuve
CONTENTS
• INTERNET CONTENT FILTERING
• CIRCUMVENTION TECHNOLOGIES
• DETERMINING NEEDS AND CAPACITY
• WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTORS
Public Web-based circumvention services
Web-based circumvention software
Web-based circumvention: security concerns
• PROXY SERVERS
Proxy server software
Publicly accessible proxy servers
- Locating open proxies
- Open proxies: uncommon ports
Proxy servers: security concerns
• TUNNELING
• ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
• CONCLUSION
INTERNET CONTENT FILTERING
Filtering technology allows controls to be placed on access to Internet content. Although
the initial focus of such technology was on the individual level – allowing
parents to restrict children’s access to inappropriate content – filtering technology is
now being widely deployed at institutional and national level. Control over access to
Internet content is becoming a priority for a number of institutional actors including
schools, libraries and corporations. Increasingly, filtering technology is being deployed at
national level. Access to specific Internet content is being blocked for entire populations,
often with little accountability.
Content filtering technologies rely on list-based blocking, often in conjunction with
blocking techniques that use keyword matching, to dynamically block Internet content.
Lists of domain names and URLs are compiled and categorized then loaded into filtering
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software which can be configured to block only certain categories. When users try to
access a web page, the filtering software checks its list database and blocks access to any
web page on that list. If keyword blocking is enabled, the software will check each web
page (the domain, URL path and/or body content of the requested page) and dynamically block
access to the web page if any of the banned keywords are present.
Filtering systems are prone to two inherent flaws: over-blocking and under-blocking. They
often block access to wrongly classified content and often do not block all access to the
content they intend to block. But the key issue is the secrecy surrounding the creation of
lists of websites that are blocked by filtering technologies. Although there are some open
source lists (focusing mostly on pornography), commercial filtering lists and lists deployed
at national level are secret. Commercial lists of categorized domains and URLs are the
intellectual property of their manufacturers and not made public. Despite the fact that
some filtering software manufacturers make online URL checkers available, the block lists
as a whole are secret and unavailable for independent scrutiny and analysis.
Often countries will build on commercial filtering technology lists adding specific websites
pertinent to their respective countries. Blocked sites most often include opposition political
parties or newspapers, human rights organizations, international news organizations and
content critical of the government. Most countries focus on local language content, as
opposed to English sites, and increasingly target interactive discussion sites such as web
blogs and web forums.
CIRCUMVENTION TECHNOLOGIES
In response to state-directed Internet filtering and monitoring regimes, many forms of
circumvention technologies have emerged to allow users to bypass filtering restrictions.
There are numerous projects to develop technologies that would enable citizens and civil
society networks to secure themselves against, or work around, Internet censorship and
surveillance. These tools as are referred to as “circumvention technologies.” In general,
circumvention technologies work by routing a user’s request from a country that imple-
mented filtering through an intermediary machine that is not blocked by the filtering regime.
This computer then retrieves the requested content for the censored user and transmits
the content back to the user. Sometimes, these technologies may be specifically designed
for a particular filtering situation or customized for a specific country. Other times, users
may simply adapt existing technologies for circumvention purposes even though that may
not be the original purpose of the technology.
Some of these technologies are developed by private companies, others by ad-hoc
groups of hackers and activists. They range from small, simple scripts and programs to
highly-developed peer-to-peer network protocols. Given the range of the technologies
involved it is necessary for potential users to be able to weigh the strengths and weaknesses
of specific techniques and technologies so as to choose the appropriate circumvention
technologies that suit their needs.
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There are two users of circumvention technologies: the circumvention provider and the
circumvention user. The circumvention provider installs software on a computer in a non-
filtered location and makes this service available to those who access the Internet from a
censored location. Thus successful circumvention relies on meeting the specific needs of
both users.
This paper aims to inform users who have made the decision to use circumvention
technologies of the available options and how to assess which is best suited to the specific
needs of the user. This is done by determining the needs and capacity of the users involved
– those using as well as those running the circumvention technology – while balancing the
appropriate level of security with the technologies’ usability by the end-user. Effective,
secure, and stable circumvention is achieved by matching the right technology with the
right user.
DETERMINING NEEDS AND CAPACITY
Circumvention technologies often target different types of users with varying resources
and levels of expertise. What may work well in one scenario may not be the best option
in another. When choosing a circumvention technology it is important for the potential
circumvention provider and user to ask these questions :
What is the number of expected users and the available bandwidth? (for the circumvention
provider and the user).
Where is the primary point of Internet access for the expected user(s) and what will they
be using it for?
What is the level of technical expertise? (for the circumvention provider and the user).
What is the availability of trusted out-of-country contacts for the end-user?
What is the level of expected penalty if the user is caught using circumvention technology ?
• Does the end-user properly understand the potential security risks of using the specific
circumvention technology?
NUMBER OF USERS AND AVAILABLE BANDWIDTH
The circumvention provider needs to estimate the number of users the circumvention
technology is intended for and balance that with the available bandwidth. The end-user
must also take into account their bandwidth as circumvention technology will slow their
Internet use.
People interested in running public proxies need to consider that their circumventor may
be used by persons who are not in censored locations. For example, circumventors may
be used to download entire movies which will use a lot of bandwidth. Therefore you may
wish to restrict access to your circumventor or how much total bandwidth you’d like to
circumventor to be restricted to. Different available technologies provide some or all of
these options.
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PRIMARY POINT OF ACCESS AND USE
There will be varying options of applicable circumvention technologies depending on
where the end-users access the Internet and what services they need to run through the
circumvention system. For example, users who access the Internet from public computers
or Internet cafés may not be able to install any software and will be restricted to web-based
solutions. Others may want to use applications besides Web browsing (HTTP), such as e-
mail (SMTP) and file transfers (FTP), and thus may want to install software on their com-
puter workstation and to tweak their computer’s settings. Of course, this requires a cer-
tain level of technical skill on the part of that user.
LEVEL OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
The greater the level of technical expertise (and limited number of users) the more circum-
vention options increase. The barriers to non-technical users include the installation and
set-up process as well as any configuration changes or extra steps that must be taken
when actually using the circumvention technology. This applies to both the circumvention
provider and the end-user. The incorrect use of circumvention technology may put users
at avoidable risk.
AVAILABILITY OF TRUSTED CONTACTS
End-users can greatly enhance their circumvention options if they know and trust persons
outside their country. If a user does not have a trusted contact then their options are limited
to publicly available systems and if the user can locate these systems so can those imple-
menting the filtering and blocking. With a trusted contact the end-user can consult with
the circumvention provider to find a solution that meets their specific needs and can be
kept private to avoid detection. Successful, long-term and stable circumvention is greatly
enhanced by having a trusted contact in a non-filtered location.
THE EXPECTED PENALTY
It is extremely important to know the penalty users face if they are caught using circumvention
technology. Depending on the severity, options will vary. If the legal environment is lax and
the expected penalty low, users can choose from a variety of options which, while effective
at circumvention, are not very secure. If the environment is extremely dangerous, care
must be taken to implement technologies that are both discreet and secure. Some may even
be used with a legitimate cover story or other forms of obfuscation.
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SECURITY RISKS
Too often users are encouraged to use circumvention technology without being properly
informed of the potential security risks, which can be minimized by deploying the right
technology in the right place and used correctly by the end-user.
WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTORS
Web-based circumventors are special web pages that contain a web form that allows users
to simply submit a URL and have the web-based circumventor retrieve the content of the
requested web page and display it to the user. There is no connection between the user
and the requested website,
and the circumventor transpa-
rently proxies the request allo-
wing to user to browse
blocked websites seamlessly.
Web-based circumventors
also re-write the links in the
requested web page to point
back through the circumven-
tor itself so that the user can
continue web surfing nor-
mally. When using a web-
based circumventor, the end-
user does not have to install
Proxy servers / change the navigator settings
any software or change any
of their browser settings. All
the end-user has to do is visit
the URL of the circumventor,
enter the URL they wish to
visit in the form located on
the circumventor page and
press the submit button.
(Web-based circumventors
may look different from one
another but the basic functio-
nality is the same). Thus no
level of expertise is required
and it can be used from any
point of access.
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Advantages :
Web-based circumvention systems are easy to use and no software needs to be installed
at the end-user level.
Public web-based circumvention services are available to users who do not have a trusted
contact in an unfiltered location.
Private web-based circumvention systems can be customized to meet the specific circum-
vention needs to users and are less likely to be found by the filtering authorities.
Disadvantages :
Web-based circumvention systems are often restricted to web traffic (HTTP) and may not
be accessible by encrypted access (SSL). Web services (such as web-based email) that
require authentication may not be fully functional.
Public web-based circumvention services are generally well known and may already be
blocked. Most of these services are already blocked by commercial filtering software.
Private web-based circumvention systems require that a user have a contact in an unfiltered
location. Ideally, the two parties must be able to communicate in some way that isn’t easily
monitored.
PUBLIC WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION SERVICES
There is publicly available web-based circumvention software as well as services. Most
provide free service while some have more options, such as encrypted access, available
with a paid subscription. Some are operated by companies, others by volunteers as a
public service. A few examplzs:

http://www.anonymizer.com/

http://www.unipeak.com/

http://www.anonymouse.ws/

http://www.proxyweb.net/

http://www.guardster.com/

http://www.webwarper.net/

http://www.proximal.com/

http://www.the-cloak.com/

Since the web addresses of these services are widely known, most Internet filtering appli-
cations already have these services on their block lists as do many countries that filter at
national level. If the web addresses of these services are blocked they cannot be used. Also,
many public web-based circumventors do not encrypt the traffic between the circumventor
and the end-user. Any information transmitted by the user can be intercepted by the
operator of the circumvention service.
Public Web-based circumvention services are best suited for users in low security risk envi-
ronments who are without trusted contacts in non-filtered locations and have temporary or
ad-hoc circumvention needs and who do not need to transmit sensitive information.
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WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION SOFTWARE
Installation of web-based circumvention software can require some level of technical exper-
tise and appropriate resources (a web server and bandwidth). With a private circumventor,
the location is only made known to the intended users whereas public circumventors and
anonymity services are known to both users and those implementing filtering (and are on
most commercial filtering software’s blocklists). The chances of private circumventors being
detected are blocked and lower than that of public circumvention services.
Private circumventors can be set up with some level of customization tailored to the speci-
fic needs of the end-user. Some common customizations are changing the port number
that the web server runs on and implementing encryption. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a
protocol for transmitting content securely over the Internet. It is often used by websites to
securely transmit information, such as credit card numbers. SSL-enabled websites are
accessed with “HTTPS” instead of the normal “HTTP”.
Another option when using SSL is creating an innocuous web page at the root of the web
server and concealing the circumventor with a random path and file name. Although an
intermediary may be able to determine the server the user is connecting to, they will not
be able to determine the requested path because that part of the request is encrypted. For
example, if a user connects to “https://example.com/secretcircumventor/” an interme-
diary will be able to determine that the user connected to example.com but they will not
know that the user requested the circumventor. If the circumventor operator places an
innocuous page at example.com, then even if any monitoring is occurring the circumven-
tor will not be discovered.
• CGIProxy: A CGI script acts as an HTTP or FTP proxy.

http://www.jmarshall.com/tools/cgiproxy

• Peacefire’s Circumventor: An automated installer program that makes it much easier
for non-technical users to install and configure CGIProxy.

http://www.peacefire.org/circumventor/simple-circumventor-instructions.html

• pHproxy: An experimental, highly configurable web-based circumventor.

http://ice.citizenlab.org/projects/phproxy

• Psiphon: An SSL-enabled webserver with built-in web-based circumventor.

http://psiphon.civisec.org

Private web-based circumventors, with encryption enabled, are best suited for users that
require stable circumvention services for web traffic and have trusted contacts in non-
filtered locations that have sufficient technical skills and available bandwidth to set up and
maintain the web-based circumventor. This is the most flexible circumvention option
available for simple web traffic and is least likely to be discovered and blocked.
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WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION: SECURITY CONCERNS
Circumvention systems do not necessarily provide anonymity. Although the end-users
identity is shielded from the operators of the websites visited. If the session between the
user and the web-based circumventor is in plain text (HTTP), as with most free services,
the content can be easily intercepted and analyzed by an intermediary such as an Internet
service provider (ISP). So although circumvention may be successful, the authorities can
still track the fact that the user has visited and used a web-based circumventor. Moreover
they can determine what content, including what websites the user visited, was exchanged
between the web-based circumventor and the end-user.
Web-based circumventors that operate in plain text mode (non-encrypted) sometimes use
URL obfuscation to counter filtering conducted by looking for key words in Uniform
Resource Locators (URL). For example, using a simple technique such as ROT-13, where
the current letter is replaced by the one 13 characters ahead of it in the alphabet, the URL
http://ice.citizenlab.org becomes uggc://vpr.pvgvmrayno.bet. In effect, the text of the
URL is encoded so that the key words the filtering technology is scanning for will not be
present in the requested URL. However, the content of the session can still be sniffed even
if the circumvention was successful.
There are also risks concerning the use of cookies and scripts. Many web-based circum-
ventors can be configured to remove cookies and scripts, but many sites (e.g. webmail
sites) require the use of cookies and scripts. Care should be taken when enabling these
options. Another related risk, especially when using services that require logins/pass-
words, is accessing the circumventor through a plaintext connection and then using it to
request information from an encrypted server. In this scenario, the circumventor retrieves
the request information from the SSL-enabled server through an encrypted transmission,
but then sends the contents in plain text back to the user, thus exposing the sensitive
information to possible interception.
Some of these security issues can be solved by using web-based proxies through an
encrypted connection. Some web-based proxies are configured to be access using SSL
(HTTPS), which encrypts the connection between the end-user and the web-based cir-
cumventor. In this scenario, intermediaries can only observe the fact that the user has
connected to the web-based circumventor and cannot determine the content of the ses-
sion. It is highly recommended that users ensure they use SSL-enabled web-based cir-
cumventors if the security risks are high.
However, although the end-user’s connection to the web-based circumventor may be
secure, any information passing through a web-based circumventor can be intercepted by
the owner of the web-based circumventor. An additional security concern is the records
that the circumvention provider keeps. Depending on the circumventor’s location, or the
location of their server, authorities may have access to their log files.
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There are still some concerns that users should be aware of, even when using SSL-
enabled web-based circumventors. One is that using encryption may draw extra attention
to the users’ circumvention activities, and the use of encryption may not be legal in all
locations. Also, it may be possible for the filtering authorities to determine what websites
a user visits through a web-based circumventor, even when using SSL encryption using
techniques known as HTTPS fingerprinting and Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks.
However, pages with dynamic content or circumventors that add random amounts of
decoy text or images to requested content can reduce this technique to a level of insigni-
ficant risk. If users are provided with the “fingerprint”, or security signature, of the SSL
certificate they can manually verify that the certificate is in fact authentic, thus avoiding the
MITM attack (1).
PROXY SERVERS
A “proxy server” is a server
that is situated between a
client, such as a web brow-
ser, and a server, such as a
web server. The proxy server
acts a buffer between the
client and the server and can
support a variety of data
requests including web traffic
(HTTP), file transfers (FTP)
and encrypted traffic (SSL).
Proxy servers are used by
individuals, institutions, and states for a variety of purposes including security, anonymity,
caching and filtering. To use a proxy server, the end-user must configure the settings of
their web browser with the IP address or hostname of the proxy server as well as the port
number that the proxy server is running on. While this is fairly simple, it may not be
possible to modify browser settings in public Internet access locations such as libraries,
Internet cafés and workplaces.
1 For more on potential attacks on circumvention systems, see Bennett Haselton’s article
(“List of possible weaknesses in systems to circumvent Internet censorship”)
at http://peacefire.org/circumventor/list-of-possible-weaknesses.html and a reply by Paul
Baranowski at: www.peek-a-booty.org/pbhtml/downloads/ResponseToLopwistcic.pdf
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Advantages:
There are many software packages to choose from that can transparently proxy traffic in
addition to web traffic (HTTP) and can be configured to operate on non-standard ports.
There are many publicly accessible proxy servers.
Disadvantages:
Most proxy servers are not enabled with encryption by default, therefore the traffic
between the user and the proxy is not secure.
The user must have the necessary permissions to change the browser settings, and if ISP’s
require that all traffic go through the ISP’s proxy server it may not be possible to use an
open proxy server.
The scanning for and use of publicly accessible proxy servers may be illegal and these
proxies may become unavailable to the user at any time.
PROXY SERVER SOFTWARE
Proxy server software can be installed by trusted contacts with some degree of technical
expertise located outside of the country that filters. Proxy server software should be
installed in locations where there is plenty of available bandwidth and should be configured
to use encryption technology. It is especially useful for situations in which an office or
small organization is in need of a stable circumvention solution. After users in the filtered
locations configure their browsers to point through the proxy server they can transparently
surf the Internet. While not the most stealthy circumvention solution, private proxy servers
are a more robust solution than web-based proxy systems. Proxy servers are better than
web-based proxies at seamlessly proxying sites that require authentication and cookies,
such as web mail sites. The proxy servers can also be customized to meet the specific
needs of the end-user and adapt to the local filtering environment.
• Squid is free proxy server software and can be secured with Stunnel server.

http://www.squid-cache.org

http://www.stunnel.org

http://ice.citizenlab.org/projects/aardvark

• Privoxy is a proxy with advanced filtering capabilities for protecting privacy.

http://www.privoxy.org

• Secure Shell (SSH) has a built-in socks proxy ($ ssh -D port secure.host.com)

http://www.openssh.com

• HTTPport/HTTPhost allows you to bypass your HTTP proxy, which is blocking you
from the Internet.
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Private proxy servers with encryption enabled are best suited for groups or users in an office
environment that require a permanent, stable circumvention solution and have trusted
contacts with sufficient technical skills and available bandwidth outside the country to
install and maintain the proxy server.
PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE PROXY SERVERS
Open proxies are servers that are intentionally or otherwise left open for connections from
remote computers. It is not explicitly known if open proxy servers have been set up as a
public service or if they have been just badly configured to inadvertently allow public
access.
WARNING: Depending on the interpretation of local law, the use of open proxy servers
may be viewed as ‘unauthorized access’ and open proxy users may subject to legal penalties.
The use of open proxy servers is not recommended.
Locating open proxies
Many websites maintain lists of open proxy servers, but this not a guarantee that the proxy
service is still available. Nothing guarantees that the information on these lists, especially
information concerning anonymity level and geographical location of the proxy, is accu-
rate. Be aware that you are using these services at your own risk.
Open proxy list websites:

http://www.samair.ru/proxy/

http://www.antiproxy.com/

http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/

http://www.multiproxy.org/

http://www.publicproxyservers.com/

Software: ProxyTools/LocalProxy

http://proxytools.sourceforge.net

65 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Open proxies: uncommon ports
Some countries that filter at national level block access to standard proxy ports. A “port”
is a logical connection location used by specific protocols. Different Internet services pass
data through on particular port numbers. Certain port numbers are assigned, by the
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), to specific protocols or services. For exam-
ple, port 80 is reserved for HTTP traffic. When you access a website in your browser you
are actually connecting to a web server running on port 80. Proxy servers also have ports
that are assigned to them by default. Therefore many filtering technologies will not allow
access to these ports. Therefore successful circumvention may require use of a proxy that
has been configured to operate on a non-standard port.

http://www.web.freerk.com/proxylist.htm

PROXY SERVERS: SECURITY CONCERNS
The configuration of proxy servers is extremely important because it controls the security
or anonymity of a connection. In addition to the lack of use of encryption, proxy servers
may pass information about the end-user to the server the content has been requested
from that can be used to identify the IP address of the computer initiating the request for
content. Moreover, all the communication between you and the proxy server may be in
plain text, thus easily intercepted by upstream filtering authorities. And any information
passing through the proxy server can be intercepted by the owner of the proxy server.
The scanning for and use of publicly accessible proxy servers is not recommended. Open
proxy servers are often used due to their availability but they do not provide any security
despite the fact that they may be able to successfully circumvent Internet filtering.
As with web-based proxies, proxy servers are subject to the same security concern.
Harmful scripts and cookies will still be transmitted to the end-user and even if used in
conjunction with encryption technology, proxy servers can also be subject to MITM and
HTTPS fingerprinting attacks. It should also be noted that some browsers will leak sensi-
tive information when using a socks proxy, a particular type of proxy server capable of
handling other types of traffic in addition to web traffic. When making a request for a web-
site the domain name is translated into an IP address. Some browsers do this locally so
the process is not directed through the proxy. In these cases, the request for the blocked
website’s IP address will be handled by Domain Name System (DNS) servers in the coun-
try that implements filtering (2).
2 For more, see the Tor site: http://tor.eff.org/cvs/tor/doc/CLIENTS
66 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
The use of open, publicly accessible proxy servers is not usually advisable and should only
be used by people in low security risk environments with temporary or ad-hoc anonymity
needs and who do not need to transmit sensitive information.
TUNNELING
Tunneling, also known as port
forwarding, allows one to
encapsulate insecure, unen-
crypted traffic within an
encrypted protocol. The user
in a censored location must
download client software that
creates a tunnel to a compu-
ter in a non-filtered location.
The normal services on the
user’s computer are available,
but run through the encryp-
ted tunnel to the non-filtered
Tunneling software
computer which forward the
user’s requests and their res-
ponses transparently. Various tunneling products are available. Users with contacts in a
non-filtered country can set up private tunneling services while those without contacts can
purchase commercial tunneling services, usually by monthly subscription.
When using free tunneling services users should note that they often include advertise-
ments. Requests for the advertisements are conducted through plain text HTTP requests
which can be intercepted by any intermediary who can then determine that the user is
using a tunneling service. Moreover, many tunneling services rely on the use of socks
proxies which may leak domain name requests.

http://www.http-tunnel.com/

http://www.hopster.com/

http://www.htthost.com/

Advantages:
Tunneling applications provide encrypted network transfer.
Tunneling applications generally have the ability to securely proxy many protocols, not just
web traffic.
There are existing commercial services that users who do not have contacts in non-
filtered countries can purchase.
67 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Disadvantages:
Commercial tunneling services are publicly known and may already be filtered.
Tunneling applications cannot be used by users in public access locations where users
cannot install software, such as Internet cafés or libraries.
Use of tunneling applications may require a higher level of technical expertise than other
circumvention methods.
Tunneling applications are best suited for technically capable users that require secure (but
not anonymous) circumvention services for more than just web traffic and do not access
the Internet from public locations. Commercial tunneling services are an excellent resource
for users in censored countries that do not have trusted contacts in non-filtered locations.
ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
Circumvention technologies and anonymous communications systems are similar and
often inter-related but operate under distinctly different criteria. Anonymous communications
systems focus on ensuring the privacy of the user by shielding the identity of the requesting
user from the content provider. In addition, advanced systems employ a variety of routing
techniques to ensure that the user’s identity is shielded from the anonymous communications
system itself. Circumvention systems do not necessarily focus on anonymity. Instead,
the focus is on secure communications to bypass specific restrictions imposed on the
users’ ability to send and receive Internet communications. Bypassing content restrictions
requires secure communications technology and often a degree of stealth but not
necessarily anonymity.
Anonymous communications systems are often used for circumvention. One advantage of
them is that there are several existing networks that can be immediately tapped into and used
to bypass content restrictions with the added benefit of being able to do so anonymously.
The use of anonymous communica-
tions systems for circumvention is
restricted to computers on which the
user has the appropriate permissions
to install software. Persons who
access the Internet through public
terminals, libraries or Internet cafés
will most likely be unable to use such
systems for circumvention. They may
also slow down connection speeds.
68 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Users seeking to bypass Internet filtering at national or ISP level may find the filtering
authorities take steps to block the use of anonymous communications systems. If the sys-
tem being used operates on a static port, filtering software can easily be configured to
deny access. The more well-known the anonymous communications system, the greater
the risk that it will be blocked. In addition, to combat systems that rely on the use of peers
or publicly known nodes the filtering authorities can simply deny access to these hosts.
The filtering authorities may operate a node of their own and attempt to monitor users who
try to connect to it. In some restrictive environments where traffic to these well-known
systems is monitored, the use of such systems may draw attention to users (3).
Advantages:
They provide both security and anonymity.
They generally have the ability to securely proxy many protocols, not just web traffic.
They often have a community of users and developers who can provide technical assistance.
Disadvantages:
They are not specifically designed for circumvention. They are publicly known and may be
filtered easily.
They cannot be used by users in public access locations where users cannot install soft-
ware, such as Internet cafés or libraries.
• Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their
privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new
communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a
range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over
public networks without compromising their privacy.

http://tor.eff.org

• JAP makes it possible to surf the Internet anonymously. Instead of connecting directly
to a web server, users take a detour, connecting with encryption through several inter-
mediaries, so-called mixes.
o http://anon.inf.tu-dresden.de/index_en.html
• Freenet is free software which lets you publish and obtain information on the Internet
without fear of censorship. It is entirely decentralized and publishers and consumers of
information are anonymous.

http://freenet.sourceforge.net

3 For more on potential attacks on circumvention systems, see Bennett Haselton’s article
(“List of possible weaknesses in systems to circumvent Internet censorship”)
at http://peacefire.org/circumventor/list-of-possible-weaknesses.html
and a reply by Paul Baranowski at: www.peek
booty.org/pbhtml/downloads/ResponseToLopwistcic.pdf
69 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Use of such systems may require quite a high level of technical expertise.
Anonymous communications systems are best suited for technically capable users who
require both circumvention and anonymity services for more than just web traffic and do
not access the Internet from public locations.
CONCLUSION
The decision to use circumvention technology should be taken seriously, carefully analyzing
the specific needs, available resources and security concerns of the end-user. There is a
wide variety of technologies available for users who want to circumvent Internet filtering.
However, using them for successful and stable circumvention service depends on a variety
of factors, including the user’s level of technical skill, potential security risk, and contacts
available outside the censored country. Governments may also take counter-measures to
effectively block specific circumvention technologies.
The keys to successful and stable circumvention capability are trust and performance.
Circumvention systems need to be targeted to users in specific circumstances or be
readily adaptable to the needs of the end-user. They need to be secure, configurable and
often stealthy. Trust should be established between circumvention provider and the end-
user by understanding the specific legal and political environment in which the end-user
operates and being up-front about the limitations of circumvention technologies.
Nart Villeneuve is the director of technical research at the Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory
based at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. As both a software
developer and academic, he is currently working with the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), documenting
Internet content filtering and surveillance practices worldwide. He has also been working on documen-
ting and evaluating existing circumvention technology as well as developing circumvention technology.
In addition to Internet censorship, his research interests include hacktivism, cyberterrorism and
Internet security. Nart Villeneuve is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Peace and Conflict
Studies program.
Acknowledgements
Michelle Levesque, Derek Bambauer and Bennett Haselton.
70 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CONFIDENTIALITY
ENSURING YOUR
E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
By Ludovic Pierrat
M
ost governments now have the means to spy on electronic messages. The
“cyberpolice” in repressive countries use it to spot and arrest political
opponents and many Internet users have been thrown in prison for sending
or even just forwarding an e-mail. A political dissident in the Maldives was given a 15-
year jail sentence in 2002 for corresponding by e-mail with Amnesty International. An
Internet user in Syria has been in prison since February 2003 for forwarding an e-mail
newsletter.
So here are some tips on how to ensure your e-mails remain private.
Using the e-mail account supplied by your Internet service provider (ISP), such as AOL,
Wanadoo or Free, or by a firm doesn’t guarantee any e-mail confidentiality. The owners of
the networks your messages pass through can very easily intercept them. When the autho-
rities in any country want to investigate Internet users, they usually go through their ISP to
read their e-mail.
A “webmail” account (such as Yahoo! or Hotmail) is more secure because it doesn’t use the
servers of a local ISP. To read webmail messages, you have to force your way in or intercept
messages as they’re being transmitted, which is technically more difficult. Unfortunately this
protection is only relative, since police experts or hackers can easily look at your webmail.
Encryption (writing protected by a code) is the main way to really ensure the privacy of your
messages. There are two kinds.
CLASSIC ENCRYPTION
Ann and Michael want to exchange secret messages, so they agree on an encryption and
decryption code and a key. Then they exchange messages using them.
The snag with this method is that if a third person intercepts the messages in which Ann
and Michael exchange their key, that person can see it and use it, perhaps to send bogus
e-mails to Ann and Michael. So Ann and Michael have to exchange their key when
nobody else can see it, by meeting in person, for example.
71 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
ASSYMETRIC ENCRYPTION
The best way to fix the problem is to use “asymmetric” encryption. Two keys are needed
for this, one to encrypt, the other to decrypt. Details of the encrypting key (the “public
key”) can be exchanged without risk over the Internet because it can’t be used to decrypt
messages. The decrypting key (the “secret key”) must never be communicated.
With asymmetric encryption, Ann has her own pair of keys (a public key that she gives out
and a secret one that she keeps). Ann sends her key to Michael, who uses it to encrypt his
messages to her. Only Ann, with her secret key, can then decrypt Michael’s messages.
Michael, with his own pair of keys, in turn sends his public key to Ann, who can then reply
to his messages in complete privacy.
But since the public key is exchanged over the Internet without special protection, it’s best
to check its validity with its owner. Each key has a “fingerprint” (a short string of characters),
which it’s easy to communicate in person or over the phone.
An unverified key may be a false one issued by a third person with evil intent, making the
encryption totally useless. The reliability of assymetric encryption depends entirely on
protecting the secret key and checking the public key of the other person.
OpenPGP (Open Pretty Good Privacy) is the standard asymmetric encryption. The most
popular software to create and use a pair of keys and manage the public keys of its corres-
pondents is GnuPG (GNU Privacy Guard), which can be used both with mail programmes
such as Thunderbird or Outlook, with webmail or with instant messaging.
Download GnuPG at : www.gnupg.org
Download special version for Windows at : www.winpt.org
Ludovic Pierrat is a computer engineer who runs Wa Company, an information technology consultancy
and production firm.
72 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
OF CYBER-CHAMPIONSHIP
By Clothilde Le Coz
M
ost of the world’s authoritarian regimes are trying to control what their
citizens read and do online. They’re getter better and better at blocking
“objectionable” material, usually with technology bought from US firms.
China is far and away the world champion. But it’s felt the heat of competition in recent
years. Each country in this far from complete list has its own style and tactics but
they all have one purpose, to keep ahead of the game.
OVERALL WINNER : CHINA
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the state have deployed huge human and
financial resources to prevent the emergence of genuine freedom of expression
online. News websites have been put under the editorial supervision of propaganda
bodies at national and local level. With 48 cyber-dissidents behind bars, China syste-
matically cracks down on bloggers. The government wants to keep control of news and
information and censors the Net through a subtle mix of filtering and dissuasion.
Several billion dollars have reportedly already been spent on censorship online. Since
the summer 2007, two “cyber-police officers” appear on the screen of computers in
cyber-cafes to warn Internet-users that they are being watched. The country is on its
way to becoming the biggest Internet sector market in the world, ahead of the United
States, and attracts more and more foreign companies, some of whom are ready to
censor their networks.
BEST CRACKDOWN : IRAN
Internet is playing an ever greater part in Iranian society, which is strongly displeasing
to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad who cannot bear to see his policies given a rough
ride. The government has therefore equipped itself with a legal means of Web censor-
ship. From 2006 onwards, all websites have had to register with the authorities and
access providers have to ensure that “banned” content is not published by their ser-
vers. Photo-sharing site FlickR and video-sharing YouTube are inaccessible because of
75 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
some items considered by the authorities to be “immoral”. The Net however remains
the vehicle of social expression and allows women, for example, to demand their
rights. Online journalists who post articles on women’s magazines are regularly
brought before the Tehran court for questioning. The authorities in 2007 arrested a
score of male and female bloggers because of their online activities.
BEST SUPPORTING ROLE : US COMPANY YAHOO!
Thanks to its co-operation, the Chinese authorities have been able to put four cyber-
dissidents in prison.
Shi Tao, a 37-year-old journalist on Dangdai Shang Bao
(Contemporary Trade News) was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2005 for “illegally
divulging state secrets abroad”, on the basis of information supplied to the govern-
ment by the US company. He was found guilty of having posted on foreign-based web-
sites an internal memo sent to his paper by the authorities. It warned journalists of the
danger of social destabilisation and risks linked to the return of certain dissidents on
the 15 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The US company is now facing
two sets of legal proceedings over the help it gave to the authorities. During a hearing
on the Shi Tao case before the US Congress, the company’s president, Jerry Yang,
publicly apologised for the “misunderstanding” which put the journalist in prison and
said it had been decided to create a fund dedicated to helping the families of cyber-
dissidents.
BEST NEWCOMER : ZIMBABWE
The Web is not sufficiently entrenched in the country for the government to operate
mass censorship, however Internet-users are openly spied on by the government,
which concentrates on email. The govern-
Président Robert Mugabe
ment in August 2007 adopted a law authori-
sing surveillance of all communications, via
telephone or electronic. A request can even
be made “orally” in “urgent or exceptional
circumstances”. Posting an article online that
is critical of the government is extremely
risky for the author. Censorship is carried
out by the national telecommunications
company TelOne which is closely controlled
by the government of President Robert
Mugabe. The company can ask access pro-
viders to monitor online communications
with a simple request. The text of the agree-
ment also asks them to “take the necessary
steps” to prevent the spread of illegal
content on the Net.
Le président Ben Ali
76 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY : BURMA
From the end of August to mid-October 2007, Burma went through its biggest upri-
sing since the 1988 student demonstrations, when a brutal crackdown left 3,000
dead. The monks rebelled against falling living standards for the Burmese, bringing
thousands of demonstrators out on to the streets with them. Faced by this “saffron
revolution” the government deliberately cut off the country so that no evidence could
get out. Between 28 September and 16 October 2007, the two access providers cut
their Internet connections on the orders of the military junta. During this two-week
blackout, Internet was only accessible for a few hours a day and all cyber-cafés were
closed. For the Burmese, the only way of getting news was via satellite television or
foreign radio stations
BEST FILTERING : SAUDI ARABIA
Unlike China or Iran, the Saudi filters make it clear that the authorities censor the Web.
Many websites dealing with social life are
inaccessible. Nearly 400,000 Web pages
are blocked in the kingdom because of
their “immoral” content, linked for exam-
ple to homosexuality or women’s rights.
A commission is also to produce quality
labels to “protect Saudi society” from
this type of content. It was even decided
to strengthen the law to fight terrorism,
fraud, pornography, defamation or viola-
tion of religious values. Blogger Fouad
al-Farhan was arrested and taken to pri-
son in Jeddah on 10 December 2007 for
having posted a commentary on the
advantages and disadvantages of being
Muslim.
King Abdallah Ben Abdel Aziz al-Saud
BEST CENSOR : VIETNAM
Internet penetration in Vietnam is higher than in China. From 2001, all Internet-
users on the Vietnamese network are responsible for the content which they
create, distribute or archive. Access providers received an order in 2006 to install
software allowing them to keep their customers’ details for one year. Filtering of
political content is the responsibility of the interior ministry. The state is a share-
holder in all access providers and can therefore easily keep them under control.
77 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
BEST SET : CUBA
Since Reporters Without Borders’ esca-
pade on this dream island in 2006,
access to the Internet has worsened still
further. There is only one remaining
cyber-café left open in the centre of
Havana. Cubans mostly have to use an
Intranet (messaging, navigator and
news) because access to the internatio-
nal network is very expensive. The
government has no hesitation in silen-
cing the most critical voices. Private
Internet connections are considered to
be illegal and an Internet-user can be
sentenced to five years in prison for not
respecting this rule. But he can also be
sentenced to 20 years in prison for pos-
ting a “counter-revolutionary” article on
foreign websites.
Clothilde Le Coz is head of the Internet Freedom desk at Reporters Without Borders
78 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CRE DITS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
International Secretariat
47,rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
Tél.: 33 1 4483-8484
Fax: 33 1 4523-1151
Website : http://www.rsf.org
Original graphic design and extra illustrations: Nuit de Chine
Copyright: Reporters Without Borders 2008
Support RSF’s campaign on http://www.rsf.org
79 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HANDBOOK OF
BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
loggers
cause
anxiety.
Governments are wary of these
men and women, who post news
without officially being journalists.
Worse, they frequently raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “traditio-
nal”, dare not cover. In some countries, blogs have become a new source of news.
This updated version of the Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents is available in
French and English on the website http://www.rsf.org. The handbook offers advice and
technical tips for the best way to launch a blog and how to get round online censorship.
It includes an explanation of how to blog anonymously and contains articles by blog-
gers, particularly in Egypt and Burma.
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
www.rsf.org

http://demaa.org/sites/default/files/rsf.org-handbook-for-cyberdissidents.pdf

Download here

.HANDBOOK FOR
BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
MARCH 2008
HANDBOOK
FOR BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HANDBOOK
FOR BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
CONTENTS
© 2008 Reporters Without Borders
04
07
BLOGGERS, A NEW SOURCE OF NEWS
Clothilde Le Coz
WHAT’S A BLOG ?
LeMondedublog.com
08 THE LANGUAGE OF BLOGGING
LeMondedublog.com
10 CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
Cyril Fiévet, Marc-Olivier Peyer and LeMondedublog.com
16 HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
The WordPress system
22 WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGUEURS HAVE ?
Dan Gillmor
26 GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH-ENGINES
Olivier Andrieu
32 WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE ?
Mark Glaser
36 PERSONAL ACCOUNTS
• SWITZERLAND: “”
Picidae
40
43
• EGYPT: “When the line between journalist and activist disappears”
Wael Abbas
• THAILAND : “The Web was not designed for bloggers”
Jotman
46 HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY WITH WORDPRESS AND TOR
Ethan Zuckerman
54 TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Nart Villeneuve
71 ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
Ludovic Pierrat
75 THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS OF CYBER-CENSORSHIP
Clothilde Le Coz
3 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
mine
INTRODUCTION
BLOGGERS,
A NEW SOURCE OF
NEWS
By Clothilde Le Coz
B
loggers cause anxiety. Governments are wary of these men and women, who
are posting news, without being professional journalists. Worse, bloggers
sometimes raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “tradition-
al”, do not dare cover. Blogs have in some countries become a source of news in their
own right.
Nearly 120,000 blogs are created every day. Certainly the blogosphere is not just
adorned by gems of courage and truth. It is also often the source of confusion and dis-
information and not all bloggers have the souls of reporters. That is why this handbook
contains advice on creating and updating a blog, with no other ambition than that of free
expression. For others it will be a struggle to draw attention to a particular issue. The first
concern therefore is to make a publication visible (see the Jotman article). This hand-
book also suggests ploys to get your blog well referenced online (see the Olivier
Andrieu article) as well as “editorial” recommendations (Get your blog to stand out, by
Mark Glazer).
Let’s acknowledge that blogs are a fantastic tool for freedom of expression. They have
unloosed the tongues of ordinary citizens. People who were until now only consumers
of news have become players in a new form of journalism, a “grassroots” journalism, as
expressed by Dan Gillmor (Grassroots journalism — see the chapter What ethics should
bloggers have?), that is “by the people for the people”.
Blogs are more or less controllable for those who want to keep them under surveillance.
Governments that are most up to do date with new technology use the most sophisti-
cated filtering or blocking techniques, preventing them from appearing on the Web at
all. But bloggers don’t just sit back and let it happen. The essential question becomes
how to blog in complete safety. With a normal IP address, a blogger can be tracked
down and arrested. Anonymity allows them to keep their freedom (See “How to blog
anonymously).
In countries where censorship holds sway, blogs are sometimes the only source of
news. During the events in Burma in the autumn of 2007, pitting monks and the peo-
ple against the military junta, bloggers were the main source of news for foreign jour-
5 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
BLOGGERS, A NEW SOURCE OF NEWS
nalists. Their video footage made it possible to gauge the scale of the protests and what
demonstrators’ demands were. For more than two months, marches were held in the
streets, then a massive crackdown was launched against opponents that only the
Burmese were able to show, so hard did it become for the few foreign journalists who
managed to enter the country to get back out with their footage. And bloggers could
not get the footage out without getting round online censorship imposed by the gov-
ernment. This handbook seeks to help every blogger to fill in the “black holes” In news.
The second part is devoted to techniques which can thwart filtering technology (Choose
your method to get round censorship by Nart Villeneuve). With a little good sense and
persistence and above all finding the technique best suited to the situation, every blog-
ger should be capable of shaking off censorship.
Clothilde Le Coz
Head of the Internet Freedom desk
6 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
DEFINITION
WHAT’S A BLOG?
By LeMondedublog.com
A “BLOG” (OR “WEBLOG”) IS A PERSONAL WEBSITE :
• containing mostly news (“posts”).
• regularly updated.
• in the form of a diary (most recent posts at the top of the page),
with most of the posts also arranged in categories.
• set up using a specially-designed interactive tool.
• usually created and run by a single person, sometimes anonymously.
A BLOG’S POSTS :
• are usually text (including external links), sometimes with pictures and,
more and more often, sound and video.
• can be commented on by visitors.
• are archived on the blog and can been accessed there indefinitely.
SO A BLOG IS MUCH LIKE A “PERSONAL WEBPAGE, EXCEPT THAT IT :
• is easier to set up and maintain and so much more active
and more frequently updated.
• encourages a more open and personal style and franker viewpoints.
• greatly encourages discussion with visitors and other bloggers.
• sets a standard worldwide format for blogs, involving similar methods
(two or three-column layout, comments on posts and RSS
(Really Simple Syndication) feed.
7 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TE RM I NOLOGY
THE LANGUAGE
OF
BLOGGING
By Lemondedublog.com
BLOG
Short for Weblog. A website that contains
written material, links or photos being
posted all the time, usually by one indivi-
dual, on a personal basis.
(TO) BLOG
Run a blog or post material on one.
BLOGGER
Person who runs a blog.
BLOGOSPHERE
All blogs, or the blogging community.
BLOGROLL
List of external links appearing on a blog,
often links to other blogs and usually in a
column on the homepage. Often amounts
to a “sub-community” of bloggers who are
friends.
CONTENT SYNDICATION
How a site’s author or administrator makes
all or part of its content available for posting
on another website.
MOBLOG
Contraction of “mobile blog.” A blog that
can be updated remotely from anywhere,
such as by phone or a digital assistant.
PERMALINK
Contraction of “permanent link.” Web
address of each item posted on a blog. A
handy way of permanently bookmarking a
post, even after it has been archived by the
blog it originated from.
PHOTOBLOG
A blog mostly containing photos, posted
constantly and chronologically.
BLOGWARE PODCASTING
Software used to run a blog. Contraction of “iPod” and “broadcasting.”
Posting audio and video material on a blog
and its RSS feed, for digital players.
COMMENT SPAM POST
Like e-mail spam. Robot “spambots” flood An item posted on a blog. Can be a mes-
a blog with advertising in the form of bogus sage or news, or just a photo or a link.
comments. A serious problem that requires Usually a short item, including external
bloggers and blog platforms to have tools links, that visitors can comment on.
to exclude some users or ban some
addresses in comments.
8 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE LANGUAGE OF BLOGGING
RSS (REALLY SIMPLE SYNDICATION)
A way of handling the latest items posted
on a website, especially suited for blogs
because it alerts users whenever their
favourite blogs are updated. It can also
“syndicate” content by allowing other
websites (simply and automatically) to
reproduce all or part of a site’s content.
Spreading fast, especially on media websites.
RSS AGGREGATOR
Software or online service allowing a
blogger to read an RSS feed, especially the
latest posts on his favourite blogs. Also
called a reader, or feedreader.
RSS FEED
The file containing a blog’s latest posts. It is
read by an RSS aggregator/reader and
shows at once when a blog has been updated.
TRACKBACK
A way that websites can communicate
automatically by alerting each other that an
item posted on a blog refers to a previous
item.
9 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WEB DIARY
A blog.
WIKI
From the Hawaiian word “wikiwiki” (quick).
A website that can be easily and quickly
updated by any visitor. The word has also
come to mean the tools used to create a
wiki (wiki engines). Blogs and wikis have
some similarities but are quite different.
USEFUL TIPS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
By Cyril Fi vet and Marc-Olivier Peyer and Lemondedublog.com
B
logs owe a lot to the growth of dynamic publishing tools that greatly simplify the
business of updating websites.
A tool for use with a blog must provide a user-friendly interface (easily accessible through
an Web navigator) and dynamically manage its content, with such things as archives and
searches.
A blog has two Internet addresses that don’t change after it’s been set up:
• l’its address for public access.
• l’its administrative address, protected by a password belonging to the person
who runs it.
You can set up a blog by either joining a blog community or using a blog tool with your
own server.
BLOG COMMUNITIES
(See the chapter on “How to set up and run a blog: the Civiblog system”)
Setting up a blog in an existing community usually takes just a few minutes. You pick a
user-name and password and with a few clicks the blog is up and running. Some commu-
nities charge, some don’t.
This method is best if you want to set up just a “view only” blog. It doesn’t cost much (at
most a few euros a month) and is straightforward and quick and you benefit from the traf-
fic the community generates or from it being already well-known.
But snags include often limited options for layout and sophisticated features, as well as
community-run ads and the risk of the community closing.
11 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
USING BLOG TOOLS
These are programmes that are installed on a server, using scripts to run the site
automatically and a database to store posted material. Once installed, it operates
through a standard online navigator. No special expertise, such as using HTML, is needed
to set up and run a blog, but installing and configuring it is sometimes tricky (setting access
criteria, creating a database and arranging FTP loading).
This solution is for people already familiar with blogs and has the advantage that it entirely
belongs to you and you can therefore adapt, configure and alter it whenever you want. But
it does requite some technical skill, is also more exposed (to spam comments) and you
have to store the contents yourself.
HOW TO CHOOSE A BLOG COMMUNITY ?
It’s not always easy to move from one blog community to another, so it’s important to
make a good choice in the first place.
Before choosing one, consider these points:
OTHER BLOGS IN A COMMUNITY
Some communities group Internet users according to interests or age. Have a look
at several dozen other blogs in a community to see if it has a “typical” group.
WHAT THE BLOG LOOKS LIKE
Though the choice is often small, communities (platforms) usually have a fair
range of colours, fonts and home-page layouts to choose from. You can get a
good idea of the possibilities there too by looking at some of the community’s
sites at random. Many free-of-charge communities require all blogs to carry ads
on all pages. Also check options for the blog’s address, which could be
http://myblog.thecommunity.com, http://www.thecommunity.com/myblog or

http://www.thecommunity.com/mynumber.

FEATURES ON OFFER
Check these to see if you’ll be able to redesign the blog, bring in other
contributors, post images or sound, post things by phone or restrict access
(totally or partially) to registered users. Also find out if posted material can be
easily forwarded to another community and if you can insert paid ads to make money.
HIDDEN COSTS
Some communities are free but have to be paid for after a certain point,
especially according to the amount of data stored and the bandwidth used.
Check this beforehand.
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CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
INTERNATIONAL PLATFORMS
Blogger – http://www.blogger.com
Free.
Set up in 1999, bought by Google in 2003 and the biggest one of all, with eight
million blogs. Easy to use but features rather limited.
LiveJournal – http://www.livejournal.com
Free or paid (about $2 a month).
One of the oldest platforms, with six million blogs, mostly young people.
MSN Spaces – http://www.msnspaces.com
Free.
Microsoft platform, set up in late 2004. Lots of features, some beyond the blog
(photo-sharing, Messenger link). Must be aged at least 13 to register a blog.
FRENCH-LANGUAGE PLATFORMS
20six – http://www.20six.fr
Free or paid (ê 3-7 a month).
Lots of features, some quite sophisticated and including basic version.
Over-Blog – http://www.over-blog.com
Free.
Well-designed and easy to use.
Skyblog – http://www.skyblog.com
Free (with ads).
The biggest platform in France, very popular with young people, though features
sometimes limited.
TypePad – http://www.typepad.com/sitefr
Paid (5-15 euros a month, according to number of features).
Very professional with good range of features.
A free version can be had through blog communities set up by third-parties, such
as Noos (http://www.noosblog.fr) or Neuf Telecom (http://www.neufblog.com).
ViaBloga – http://viabloga.com
Free for non-profit associations, or 5 euros a month.
Original and dynamic, with some unusual features.
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CHOOSING THE BEST TOOL
MAJOR BLOG TOOLS
DotClear – http://www.dotclear.net
MovableType – http://www.movabletype.org
Wordpress – http://www.wordpress.org
Lemondedublog.com is an daily update about the world of blogs and blogging
14 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
My blog
GETTING GOING AND KEEPING UP TO DATE
HOW
TO SET UP AND RUN
A BLOG
The WordPress system (www.wordpress.org)
w
ordpress is very simple to use but requires to download a software to access
the blog platform (it’s a “blogware”). WordPress is an “Opensource” project,
which means that everyone can improve it through comments or suggestions.
It is however necessary to gather information on WordPress security and privacy settings
if you want to blog anonymously (cf.”How to blog anonymously”).
THE WORDPRESS HOMEPAGE
Wordpress is available in more than 120 lan-
guages (http://wordpress.com/languages/-
). Each time you post an article, the platform
is upadted through the RSS feeds.
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HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
SIGNING UP
You have to register before you set up a
blog. Most blog platforms make it very
simple. WordPress requires just basic
details (login, password and e-mail
address), and allows to blog anony-
mously. Access codes needed to
launch the blog are e-mailed to the blogger.
ADMINISTRATION LOG-IN
A blog has a “front end” (the page
where visitors go) and a “back end,”
from where it’s updated, monitored
and run and which is accessed with
the user-name and password you get
when you sign up.
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HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
DASHBOARD
Most blogs have a “dashboard,” where
you can see at a glance everything
happening on the blog, including the
latest posts, comments and track-
backs. You can access all the blog’s
features from here and change how it
looks, increase bandwidth, edit old
posts and manage your users and their
permissions, such as their right to post
comments.
HOW TO POST
One of the big differences between a
blog and a normal webpage is that it’s
easier to update a blog. Most platforms
allow you to type posts in plain text
without bothering about layout.
With WordPress, you can change
fonts, sizes and colours and insert
links and pictures.
You post something by:
1. Logging in.
2. Clicking on “write.”
3. Giving your post a name and typing
the content in.
4. Formatting the text by using the
interface.
5. Giving the post a category (so it
can be grouped with similar ones) or
creating a new category.
6. Clicking on “save” at the bottom of
the page. Your article is in your “drafts”
19 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
7. click on “publish” to put it online. Be care-
ful! If you want to blog anonymously, change
the “timestamp” before publishing your post
online. This way, you won’t be related to this
article if you post it from an controlled
Internet cafe.
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
That’s all. With a bit of experience, you can start using other features such as “PINGS”
A ping is a protocol that sends a message to another computer and waits for acknowledg-
ment, often used to check if another computer on a network is reachable. They are essen-
tial to alert people on every update of your blog. But they can be dangerous to those who
want to blog anonymously if they don’t use a tool that can modify their IP address.
HOW TO PUBLISH A VIDEO
Publishing a video online makes your blog more attractiv.There are two ways of publishing
a video. If you have the video file on your computer, you’ll have to subscribe to the
Wordpress paying version and use WordPress video player. If the video is already online
(on Youtube for example), click on “video” and add the link it is related to.
TRACKBACKS
It’s easy to add a trackback to your post. You just add the permanent URL of the
site you’re referencing in the right-hand box marked “Sen a trackback to” and the
trackback will automatically be sent to the site when you save the post.
20 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO SET UP AND RUN A BLOG
LINK YOUR FAVOURITE WEBSITES TO YOUR BLOG
Click on “blogroll” and add the Internet addresses you want to be on your blog
There are many websites about blogging. Here are some addresses :
How to blog:

http://blogging.typepad.com/how_to_blog

The blogosphere:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere

The Weblog Workshop:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/globalvoices/wiki/index.php/WeblogWorkshop

Blogging 101:

http://www.unc.edu/%7Ezuiker/blogging101/index.html

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Dan Gillmor
The people were hungry in the streets and the police were after them
ONLINE PRINCIPLES
WHAT ETHICS
SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
By Dan Gillmor
N
ot all bloggers do journalism. Most do not. But when they do, they should
be ethical.
Does this mean they must subscribe to some kind of ethical code? Not necessarily.
The professional journalism world is awash in ethics codes. Some are longer than the
United States Constitution, trying to anticipate every possible breach. Others are short and
succinct, offering more positive guidance. The cyber-journalist Website has adapted for
bloggers an ethics code (http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php) from the
Society of Professional Journalists, an American group. It is a solid and worthy effort.
All ethics codes are created for one essential purpose: to instill trust. If a reader (or viewer
or listener) cannot trust the report, there is usually little reason to bother in the first place.
The exception, of course, is looking at material that is known to be unethical, as much for
instructional purposes – we can learn a great deal from watching unethical people’s
behavior – as to gain true knowledge.
For me, ethics is about something quite simple: honor. Within that word, however, is a
great deal of territory. But unless we act with honor we cannot expect people’s trust.
In American journalism, trust is often associated with a standard we call “objectivity” – the
idea that an article should offer balance and nuance, giving the reader the chance to make
up his or her own mind. I believe objectivity is a worthy but unattainable goal, because we
all bring our own biases to everything we do.
In a world of new journalism, where we shift from a lecture to much more of a conversation,
ethical journalism depends less on codes of ethics than the values and principles that are
a foundation for honorable journalism.
There are pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, transparency and
independence.
23 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
The lines separating them are not always clear. They are open to wide interpretation, and
are therefore loaded with nuance in themselves. But I think they are a useful way to
approach ethical journalism, and they are notably easier to achieve in an online setting.
Let’s look at each.
THOROUGHNESS
When I was a reporter and, later, a columnist, my first goal was to learn as much as I could.
After all, gathering facts and opinions is the foundation of reporting. I liked it best when
I felt I had left 95 percent of what I’d learned out of the final piece. The best reporters
I know always want to make one more call, check with one more source. (The last question
I ask at all interviews is, “Who else should I talk with about this?”
Today, thoroughness means more than asking questions of the people in our address
books, real or virtual. It means, whenever possible, asking our readers for their input, as
I did when I wrote a book on grassroots journalism in 2004 (and as other authors are
beginning to do in theirs). Competitive pressures tend to make this a rare request, but I’m
convinced that more journalists will adopt it.
ACCURACY
Be factual.
Say what you don’t know, not just what you do. (If the reader/listener/viewer does know
what you don’t, you’ve just invited him/her to fill you in.)
Accuracy means correcting what you get wrong, and doing it promptly. This is much easier
online, where we can mitigate or at least limit the damage from our errors for new readers.
FAIRNESS
This one is as difficult, in practice, as accuracy is simple. Fairness is often in the eye of the
beholder. But even here I think a few principles may universally apply.
Fairness means, among other things, listening to different viewpoints, and incorporating
them into the journalism. It does not mean parroting lies or distortions to achieve that lazy
equivalence that leads some journalists to get opposing quotes when the facts overwhelm-
ingly support one side.
Fairness is also about letting people respond when they believe you are wrong, even if you
do not agree. Again, this is much easier online than in a print publication, much less a
broadcast.
Ultimately, fairness emerges from a state of mind. We should be aware of what drives us,
and always be willing to listen to those who disagree. The first rule of having a conversation
is to listen – and I know I learn more from people who think I’m wrong than from those
who agree with me.
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WHAT ETHICS SHOULD BLOGGERS HAVE?
TRANSPARENCY
Disclosure is gaining currency as an addition to journalism. It’s easier said than done, of
course.
No one can plausibly argue with the idea that journalists need to disclose certain things,
such as financial conflicts of interest. But to what extent? Should journalists of all kinds be
expected to make their lives open books? How open?
Personal biases, even unconscious ones, affect the journalism as well. I’m an American,
brought up in with certain beliefs that many folks in other lands (and some in the United
States) flatly reject. I need to be aware of the things I take for granted, and periodically
challenge some of them, as I do my work.
Another way to be transparent is how we present a story. We should link to source material
as much as possible, bolstering what we tell people with close-to-the-ground facts and
data. (Maybe this is part of accuracy or thoroughness, but it seems to fit here, too.)
INDEPENDENCE
Honorable journalism means following the story where it leads. When media are consolidated
into a few big companies or are under the thumb of governments, this cannot happen.
It is simple to be independent online. Just start a blog. But no one should imagine that the
same pressures from businesses and governments will not apply when a blogger tries to
make a living at his or her new trade.
Jeff Jarvis, a prominent American blogger (buzzmachine.com), adds several other ideals.
Bloggers must value the ethic of the conversation. He notes what for me is a bottom line
of this new world: that conversation leads to understanding.
In a conversation, the first rule is to listen. Ethics requires listening, because it is how we
learn.
His blog:

http://bayosphere.com/blog/dangillmor

25 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Dan Gillmor is founder of Grassroots
Media Inc., a company aimed at enabling
grassroots journalism and expanding its
reach. Its first site is Bayosphere.com in
the San Francisco Bay Area. He is author
of “We the Media:
Grassroots Journalism by the People, for
the People” (O’Reilly Media, 2004).
USEFUL TIPS
GETTING YOUR BLOG
PICKED UP
BY SEARCH-ENGINES
By Olivier Andrieu
B
logs are websites themselves, so they’re picked up by search-engines like
Google, Yahoo! Search or MSN Search. To be successful, a blog has to get good
visibility on their results pages through major keywords. So a site has to be
designed from the start to react to the mechanical classification criteria these engines use.
Blogs have several built-in characteristics that get them often picked up by search-engines,
well-listed and placed in a prominent position on results pages.
• Because they are personal diaries (at least at the beginning), they usually have a lot of
text which helps them get picked up. Search-engines don’t pick up sites with a lot of
graphics or Flash animations but not much text.
• Each “post” usually occupies a single page, accessible through a “permalink” and dea-
ling with a single subject, and is much more often picked up by search-engines than long
pages about many different topics (such as archives or a blog homepage).
• The heading of a post is usually reproduced in the page heading or the URL (address).
For example, on the Radio Free Nepal blog, at http://freenepal.blogspot.com, each post
is on a page of its own, such as http://freenepal.blogspot.com/2005/04/state-vanda-
lism-in-nepal.html:
26 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
The heading of the post (State Vandalism in Nepal) occurs not just in the page URL but
also in the heading of the document, as follows :
So the post heading has been added after the blog’s name, which appears alone on the
blog’s homepage (http://freenepal.blogspot.com).
The presence of descriptive keywords in the page headings
(the content of the <TITLE> tag in HTML language) and in the
URLs of these documents are key criteria for search-engines,
so it’s very important to choose post headings carefully to
ensure they get picked up.
• Links are automatically created, especially to archives, and
are text (see examples on the right of the Radio Free Nepal
pages).
This is very good for getting picked up because the text
content of the links (called “anchors”) is key to the relevance
of pages the links point to from the search-engines. So in the
example here, the presence of the words “State Vandalism in
Nepal” in the first link or “Radio Free Nepal” in the 9th boosts the relevance of the page
indicated by the link for these terms. Also, the page with these links (the clickable text is
detected as important by search-engines) and the page indicated by them will be
considered relevant.
HOW TO GET A BLOG PICKED UP MORE
27 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
Blogs have many inbuilt advantages to get them picked up frequently. Once a search-engine
has “found” the blog, either by it being submitted manually or by search-engine “spiders”
following links, a blog will have much more chance than a standard website of being
displayed prominently because of its natural advantages. But you should try to increase
this visibility by going a bit further.
Here are some tips on how to do this, using major keywords drawn from the topic of your blog.
1. Focus on technology that helps getting picked up
If your site isn’t yet online, be careful what technology (such as Blogger, Dotclear,
BlogSpirit, Joueb and many others) you use to put it there. Choose the one that includes
the maximum details for getting picked up:
• The heading of the post must be fully reproduced in the page heading (the <TITLE> tag)
as well as in its URL (which isn’t always done, since in the address some tools truncate the
post heading after a certain number of characters).
• Creation of “permalinks” (links to a page containing a single post) must be possible.
• The technology chosen must allow you to do as much as possible in the design and
personalisation of your site, such as using your own graphics and personal style-sheets.
You must learn how to do as many technical things as possible so you can use the maxi-
mum number of factors to help the site get picked up.
To check all these points, have a look at sites using the technology you’re considering (you
can always find a big enough sample there) and see how they’re displayed. You’ll learn
quite a lot this way.
2. Choose the best headings for your posts
This is very important. The heading of your post will be reproduced in the heading of the
single pages displaying your posts, in their URLs and in the text of links that point to them
– three key places for search-engines. So the post headings must contain, in a few words,
the most important terms, to allow them to be picked up. Avoid headings such as “Well
said!” “Welcome!” or “Great!” The heading should describe or sum up in less than five
words what can be found in the post that follows. Think of the words you’d like a search-
engine to pick up from it and put them in the heading. Not so easy, perhaps, but very
effective.
3. Provide the text
Search-engines love text, so provide it for them. You can post all the photos you want as long
as they go with text. Try to make each post at least 200 words long so it’ll have a good chance
of being easily spotted by search-engines. Also avoid having several very different topics in
the same post, as search-engines don’t like that. The golden rule is one topic, one post.
4. Pay attention to the first paragraph of your posts
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GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
The position of important words in the text is also crucial. Take great care with your first
paragraph. If you want to be picked up with the words “release hostages,” for example,
put them among the first 50 in the post. The same goes for all the keywords you choose.
A page with them at the beginning always gets better search-engine results than if they’re
at the end (all other things being equal). Stress these words, by putting them in bold for
example. This signals to the search-engine that they’re important.
5. Avoid duplicate content in a post
All search-engines have ways to detect duplicate content and if two pages are over-similar,
only one of them will be spotted and the other rarely displayed on a results page. Google,
for example, displays this message:
(( In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar
to those already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results
included. ))
This often happens with blogs, as the pages containing each post can appear very similar.
For example, if you have an identical introduction on each page, either put it at the bottom
or just on the home page, so as to make all your pages very different from each other.
6. Don’t give your blog a title that’s too long.
The best title (the content of the tag <TITLE>) for search-engines is between 5 and 10
words long, not counting “stop words” such as “the” or “and.” The page heading of a blog
usually has two parts:
• The general title of the blog
• A repeat of the heading of the post.
So as not to exceed 10 words in the general heading of pages presenting each post, you
should use no more than five words for the general title of the blog and five for the hea-
ding of the post. That’s not very much, but being concise as well as informative is one of
the keys to getting picked up easily by search-engines.
If you can (not all technologies allow you to do it), put the heading of the post at the top
and the general title of the blog afterwards, rather than the other way round.
29 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
7. Syndicate your blog
Most blog tools allow you to create an “XML thread” or “RSS feed” with which users can
pick up your posts in suitable software format. You can offer this facility on your blog (it
only takes a few minutes to install). You’ll not only get more visitors but on Yahoo!, it’ll be
indicated prominently as shown: (( View as XML )).
So make use of this.
8. Keep your links updated
Links are very important for search-engines because they allow them to compile a popu-
larity rating (called PageRank by Google) of webpages. So build up the number of links to
your blog by:
• Inserting it in directories (see below).
• Looking for “cousin sites” that aren’t rivals but offer material on the same topic.
Exchanging links between blogs in the same area of interest should be sought as quickly
as possible (this is quite frequently done and approved of in the blogging community,
which is another advantage of blogs). Blogs are also well-suited for this, as the margin is
often empty and they can be posted there.
FEATURING IN TOPIC DIRECTORIES
Featuring in general-interest search-engines (such as Google, MSN, Yahoo! and Exalead)
and directories (such as Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory) is very important but
getting featured by topic is too because it:
• generates more focused visitors.
• increases the number of links to your blog, which is good for your popularity.
• gets you known by other blog publishers who might want to exchange links
with similar sites.
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GETTING YOUR BLOG PICKED UP BY SEARCH ENGINES
Among the many search tools (search-engines and directories) that pick up blogs, are:
English-language Blogwise : http://www.blogwise.com/
Daypop : http://www.daypop.com/
Feedster : http://www.feedster.com/
Technorati : http://www.technorati.com/
Waypath : http://www.waypath.com/
Blogarama : http://www.blogarama.com/
Syndic8 : http://www.syndic8.com/
French-language Blogonautes http://www.blogonautes.com/
Blogolist http://www.blogolist.com/
Weblogues http://www.weblogues.com/
Blogarea http://www.blogarea.net/Links/
Pointblog http://www.pointblog.com/
Les Pages Joueb http://pages.joueb.com/
A bigger list is at :

http://search-engines.blogs.com/mon_weblog/2005/05/les_search-engines_de_.html

Also have a look at the directories of each technology provider, such as :

http://www.canalblog.com/cf/browseBlogs.cfm

http://www.dotclear.net/users.html

http://www.blogspirit.com/fr/communautes_blogspirit.html

CONCLUSION
A blog has all the elements for getting easily picked up by search-engines. With the tips
given here, you should get very good results and increase your blog’s visibility. So off you
go – and remember that “content is king.”
Olivier Andrieu is a freelance Internet consultant specialising in getting sites picked up by search-engines.
He also runs the website www.abondance.com.
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Make oneself stand out
HOW TO STAND OUT
WHAT REALLY MAKES
A BLOG SHINE
By Mark Glaser
I
n the billions and billions of words posted by the millions of blogs worldwide,
what makes one particular blog stand out from the teeming mass? What puts
the blog writer into a special class, makes readers return day after day and
brings accolades from the media?
It’s connection. Successful bloggers are those who connect with their readers, whether 10
or 10,000 people, by entertaining or enlightening them. Many people like to draw boun-
daries between bloggers and other writers (journalists, novelists, marketers) but their goals
are similar: grab people by the collar and don’t let go.
Some of the bloggers writing in this handbook – Bahrain’s Chan’ad Bahraini, Hong Kong’s
Yan Sham-Shackleton and Iran’s Arash Sigarchi – blog in countries where the government
is watching their words very carefully. And the world is watching them as well, to learn
about stories the press in their countries dare not tell. In these places, freedom of speech
and freedom of the press are in danger, and bloggers’ voices online are an important link
to the reality on the streets of their towns. The photos they take and the stories they tell
are vital.
But what makes these and other noteworthy blogs shine? Here are some of their main
attributes, the things that set them apart from all those millions of other blogs.
A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL VOICE
The best bloggers talk in their own voice, celebrate their unique identity and tell the
stories that are real to them. Weblogs come from the idea of an online journal, a personal
journal, so it’s important to remember that journaling is not like academic writing, not like
impersonal writing for a wire service. Chan’ad Bahraini is the pseudonym of an Asian blogger
located in the mainly Arab country of Bahrain, giving him an unusual perspective on
events there. Yan Sham-Shackleton is a performance artist who has lived all over the world
and helped run a protest against China blocking the TypePad blog sites – after several
years earlier herself helping the Chinese authorities to filter the Net.
33 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE
KEEP IT CURRENT
The biggest problem with the vast majority of blogs is that they are stale. Because most
people are not paid to blog, it takes a while to integrate blogging into their daily routine.
Many people start to blog, try it out, and then never have the time to update it. To be suc-
cessful, bloggers must keep writing posts on a regular basis and stay up on the topics that
interest them, including current affairs. That doesn’t mean they have to post 12 times
every day, but a few weeks off can kill a blog’s audience.
CONNECT WITH AND EMPOWER READERS
One of the distinguishing features of blogs is interactivity. There are many ways to engage
your readers, involve them in the conversation and utilize their feedback. You could run
an online poll, or give them your e-mail address, or just enable comments under each pos-
ting. Jeff Ooi was threatened by the Malaysian authorities because of a comment made by
one of his readers. Rather than take all comments off his blog, Ooi decided to moderate
comments to make sure readers stayed on topic and would stand by their words. He also
started up a Chinese-language blog called “The Ferryman” as a way to build a bridge bet-
ween the Malaysian and Chinese blogospheres.
34 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
WHAT REALLY MAKES A BLOG SHINE
TELL TRUTH TO POWER
While many blogs include commentary, some also include original old-fashioned reporting.
There’s no right way to do it, but having either original reporting or an original angle on a
story helps set your blog apart. Chan’ad Bahraini offered photos and audio of protests in
Bahrain when an activist was jailed in November 2004. And blogger Arash Sigarchi was
arrested in Iran and sentenced to 14 years in prison for criticizing the hard-line regime’s
arrests of other journalists. He was later freed after paying a fine, but his case is under
appeal. The key is that these bloggers and so many others have spoken truth to power,
and had the courage to stand up as a collective blogosphere to authorities that would
rather hide the truth.
Mark Glaser is a columnist for Online
Journalism Review (www.ojr.org), a publication
produced by the University of Southern
California’s
Annenberg
School
of
Communication. He is a freelance writer based
in San Francisco. You can reach him at
glaze@sprintmail.com
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PERSONAL ACCOUNTS
SWITZERLAND
EGYPT
THAILAND
PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
SWITZERLAND
PHOTOS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
By Picidae
o
n the Internet, we are used to dealing with text so we have chosen to take the
Internet’s photo.
This sign is symbol of Picidae.
Choose: it’s a stylised camera or a
breach in a wall.
“Picidae” comes from the Latin word
meaning “peak”. We wanted it to refer to
the pickaxes that the East Germans used
to destroy the Berlin Wall. But this sign
also represents the way our project
works: photographing the Internet to get round censorship.
It is first and foremost an artistic project. To look at the world through this breach is to
question what it is like behind the wall. It’s a new way of understanding. Picidae is a new
strategy: to find a way of getting round censorship which cannot be filtered or censored.
This tool works for the whole network and was thought up to be based on a community
of Internet-users. As the Internet is not centralised, it allows exchanges in complete free-
dom. That is why our project is based on an exchange of data. If certain people have their
Internet access cut, Picidae will be able to use other points of access and will never be
interrupted. It’s also a communication platform which will allow everyone to improve tech-
nically.
We have set up “pici” servers, which allow the user to connect to the Internet via a com-
puter which is not their own. If the user goes to a pici server, a form will come up and he
can enter a web address on it. The pici server then creates a screenshot of the website
37 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
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and sends it to you. To make surfing possible from this image, the server will analyse the
website and integrate an exact copy with clickable areas instead of links. All the Internet
links are then reproduced (menu bar, functions, search etc.) It is then possible to click on
the links in the same way as on a “real” website.
In taking these images, picidae codes websites which means there is no chance of suc-
cess for “key word” filtering. And to avoid the word “picidae” being filtered we have cho-
sen a symbol which is not from any particular language. The image is universal and can
thwart filtering.
To prevent censorship of requests by users on a pici server, the data entered in the forms
are encrypted before being sent. Censorship systems cannot therefore know what an indi-
vidual is researching, thus foiling government control.
We have tested our project in China. This journey to the ends of the Internet has shown
us the extent to which censorship is hidden. Cyber-cafés are under surveillance and the
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network is ultra-filtered. News
about Tibet, Taiwan, political criti-
cism and human rights are censo-
red. One of the most important
aspects of Picidae is to make censorship visible. Using pici based in Zürich, we have been
able to get access to the websites we want. Picidae is currently used in China and in
Europe and we plan on exporting it to Arab countries and to North Africa. The system is
free and requires no installation, login or password.
Creators of the project are Christoph Wachter and Mathias Judt.
For further information http://www.picidae.net
Pici Server: http://pici.picidae.net/
Proxies are also available: contact@picidae.com: picidae is a decentralised system and
does not need to be accessible through centralised data. Each point of access or server
works independently from others and does not contain a name or description to avoid
censorship.
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PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
EGYPT
WHEN THE LINE BETWEEN JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST DISAPPEARS
By Wael Abbas
B
logging has allowed the limits of press freedom to be pushed back in Egypt
as well as those of freedom in general. Some even consider that bloggers
achieved in a few days what human rights organisations have failed to do in
ten years.
By the end of 2004, movements demanding
change had seen their ranks swell in the
run-up
to
presidential
elections.
Demonstrations were held which were not
covered by the traditional media because
they were calling for the president to go.
Bloggers filled the gap, by simply posting
footage and photos to report on the situa-
tion. I was almost arrested as I tried to take
photos of police officers who tackled them.
One day, lawyers warned me that an arrest
warrant had been taken out against me
because one of the shots I had posted on
my blog that showed security agents des-
troying an Egyptian flag. But I was also accu-
sed of things I hadn’t done: assaulting the
security forces, attacking staff, ransacking
public buildings and so on. I managed to prove that they had nothing against me but the
accusations were renewed every time a demonstration was held. Ironically, I did not
take part in most of the demonstrations and I was even out of the country when they
took place.
Information relayed by bloggers comes from citizens. They revealed the crackdown
against these peaceful demonstrations, then the rigging of elections results and bruta-
lity in police stations against people not facing any charges. That is where the line bet-
ween journalist and activist disappears.
40 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PERSONAL ACCOUNT / EGYPT
When I relayed the case of “Imad al-Kabir” (the
name of the prisoner) by posting footage showing
the torture of prisoners in police stations, I had the
information from citizens. It is them it comes from.
This case has been one of the great achievements
of the blogosphere because these films, only
published online, were used as evidence during
the trial of police officer Islam Nabih who was sen-
tenced to three years in prison. I am however
aware that it was the work of journalists which
uncovered the identity of the victims of torture.
They allowed some police officers to be handed
over to the courts.
The traditional media do not dare cover these sub-
jects. Before putting out news gathered by blog-
gers, they make sure that they do not embarrass
the government. But several newspapers have
occasionally tried to appropriate recordings and
photos taken by bloggers, who had them exclusi-
vely. Most of the time they do not refer to the
source. Rather than submit to this situation, blog-
gers and journalists have started working together.
A new kind of journalism has been created, which
allies the two worlds.
Personally, I am satisfied if the citizen knows that a
police officer has no right to assault him, if the vic-
tims of torture start talking about it, make com-
plaints and demand their rights. All that is new in
Egypt, because the security services have mana-
ged to instil fear into people and Egyptians are
used to suffering in silence.
Wael Abbas is one of the leading human rights
activists in Egypt. He lives in Cairo and runs a blog
(http://misrdigital.blogspirit.com) on which at the
start of 2007 he posted video footage exposing
torture of some prisoners in Cairo police stations.
This allowed the victims and the perpetrators of
these crimes to be identified but also to raise awa
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42 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
PE RSONAL ACCOU NT
THAILAND
THE WEB WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR BLOGGERS
By Jotman
W
I threw myself into the world of blogs in Bangkok en 2006 with my camera in
my hand. I went in a taxi to the district where army tanks were guarding the
main official buildings. It was just after midnight when I heard the throbbing
motorbikes taking the generals to power. At dawn, the photos and video footage posted
on my blog were among the first of the Thai coup to get out of the country and I conti-
nued to blog despite restrictions imposed on the Web by the military regime.
Obviously, Burma, China and other governments can always
block access to my blog through the URL address, but they could
also do it in other ways. The options on the platform I use,
Blogger, are somewhat restrictive but that’s just too bad. But if
you get too involved in the design aspect you no longer always
make it clear to Internet-users that you have something to say.
This modest interface allows me to concentrate on what I write.
Blogging as a way of talking about the everyday can assume dif-
ferent forms. Often blogging is a form of “quibbling” ” – going
through the news with a fine-tooth comb to find the tiniest impre-
cision or a nugget of wisdom. Blogging is also to inform – to post
news and show where it comes from. During the Burmese crisis in September 2007, I
became aware of the extent of the impact my blog could have in gathering news about
Burmese bloggers and their struggle. When I was trying to check out rumours about
Burmese bloggers and their standard of living, I went there and interviewed a monk. After
that I travelled to near the Thai border where I interviewed several other monks and pro-
democracy activists. But blogging is also about publishing original and multi-media
content. A blog can sometimes even be the source of a “scoop”.
Bloggers deal with important issues, but do not have enough of an audience. The Web
may very well be “as wide as the world”, but it wasn’t designed for bloggers. It only knows
how to seek and index information. What a poor tool a search engine is for attracting new
43 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
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readers! It has nothing in common with that good old newspaper which makes news avai-
lable to passers-by which they would certainly not have gone to look for themselves.
Everyone can read their ideal newspaper online. There is no happy chance meeting bet-
ween readers and news. Paradoxically, in this era of globalisation, events are a little more
linked to one another but the perspectives for readers are shrinking.
It is therefore necessary for good quality blogs to reach a wider audience. Several steps
have already been taken through aggregators of blogs translated into several languages
(Global Voices, WordPress and so on). Wikipedia has also contributed to giving bloggers
a certain degree of credibility. But this type of trailblazing only interests seasoned Internet-
users or those specialised in a particularly part of the world. Civil society would have much
to gain if it had this access.
Bloggers often find interesting information which would also have proved interesting for
those who do not blog, who are neither specialists nor enthusiasts. But the network hides
it away.
Jotman wants to remain anonymous. He was one of the major sources of news during the
Burmese crisis and the winner of the Best of the Blogs (BOB) awards in 2007, a blog com-
petition with which Reporters Without Borders is associated. He won his prize for his work
promoting freedom of expression.
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45 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
USEFUL TIPS
HOW TO BLOG
ANONYMOUSLY
Practice with Tor and WordPress
By Ethan Zuckerman
T
here are number of ways you can hide your identity when using the Internet.
Any path towards anonymity needs to consider local conditions, your own tech-
nical competence and your level of paranoia. If you’re worried that what you’re
posting could put you at risk and you’re capable of installing it, posting to a blog through
Tor is a very good idea. If you don’t really need to be anonymous, don’t be. If your name
is associated with your words, people are laikely to take your words seriously. But some
people are going to need ti be anonymous. Don’t use these techniques unless you really
need to.
And remember not to sign your blog posts with your real name !
Do you remember Sarah,who was learning the basics of anonymous blogging in 2005?
Here are some reminders…
STEP ONE – PSEUDONYMS
One easy way Sarah can hide her identity is to use a free webmail account and free blog
host outside her native country. (Using a paid account for either email or webhosting is a
poor idea, as the payment will link the account to a credit card, a checking account or
Paypal account that could be easily linked to Sarah.) She can create a new identity –
a pseudonym – when she signs up for these accounts, and when the minister finds her
blog, he’ll discover that it belongs to “A. N. Ymous”, with the email address
anonymous.whistleblower@hotmail.com.
Some providers of free webmail accounts:
Hotmail
Yahoo
Hushmail – free webmail with support for strong cryptography
Some providers of free weblog hosting:
Blogsome – free WordPress blogs
Blogger
Seo Blog
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Here’s the problem with this strategy. When Sarah signs up for an email service or a
weblog, the webserver she’s accessing logs her IP address. If that IP address can be traced
to her – if she’s using her computer at home or her computer at work – and if the email
or weblog company is forced to release that information, she could be found. It’s not a sim-
ple matter to get most web service companies to reveal this information – to get Hotmail,
for instance, to reveal the IP Sarah used to sign up for her account, the minister would
likely need to issue a subpoena, probably in cooperation with a US law enforcement
agency. But Sarah may not want to take the risk of being found if her government can per-
suade her email and weblog host to reveal her identity.
STEP TWO – PUBLIC COMPUTERS
One extra step Sarah could take to hide her identity is to begin using computers to make
her blogposts that are used by lots of other people. Rather than setting up her webmail
and weblog accounts from her home or work computer, Sarah could set them up from a
computer in a cybercafé, library or university computer lab. When the minister traces the
IP used to post a comment or item, he’ll find the post was made from a cybercafé, where
any number of people might have been using the computers.
There are flaws in this strategy as well. If the cybercafé or computer lab keeps track of who
is using what computer at what time, Sarah’s identity could be compromised. She shouldn’t
try to post in the middle of the night when she’s the only person in the computer lab –
the geek on duty is likely to remember who she is. And she should change cybercafés
often. If the minister discovers that all the whistleblower’s posts are coming from “Joe’s
Beer and Bits”on Main Street, he might stake someone out to watch the cybercafé and
see who’s posting to blogs in the hope of catching Sarah.
STEP THREE – ANONYMOUS PROXIES
Sarah’s getting sick of walking to Joe’s cybercafé every time she wants to post to her blog.
With some help from the neighborhood geek, she sets up her computer to access the web
through an anonymous proxy. Now, when she uses her webmail and weblog services,
she’ll leave behind the IP address of the proxy server, not the address of her home
machine… which will make it very hard for the minister to find her.
First, she finds a list of proxy servers online, by searching for “proxy server” on Google.
She picks a proxy server from the publicproxyservers.com list, choosing a site marked
“high anonymity”. She writes down the IP address of the proxy and the port listed on the
proxy list.
Some reliable lists of public proxies:
• publicproxyservers.com – anonymous and non-anonymous proxies.
• Samair (http://www.samair.ru/proxy/) – only anonymous proxies, and includes
information on proxies that support SSL.
• rosinstrument proxy database (http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/) – searchable
48 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY
database of proxy servers.
Then she opens the “preferences” section of her web browser. Under “general”, “net-
work” or “security” (usually), she finds an option to set up a proxy to access the Internet.
(On the Firefox browser, this option is found under Preferences – General – Connection
Settings.)
She turns on “manual proxy configuration”, enters the IP address of the proxy server and
port into the fields for HTTP proxy and SSL proxy and saves her settings. She restarts her
browser and starts surfing the web.
She notices that her connection to the web seems a bit slower. That’s because every page
she requests from a webserver takes a detour. Instead of connecting directly to
hotmail.com, she connects to the proxy, which then connects to Hotmail. When Hotmail
sends a page to her, it goes to the proxy first, then to her. She also notices she has some
trouble accessing websites, especially those that want her to log in. But at least her IP isn’t
being recorded by her weblog provider.
Sarah has another problem if she’s one of very few people in the country using a proxy.
If the comments on her blog can be traced to a single proxy server, and if the minister can
access logs from all the ISPs within a country, he might be able to discover that Sarah’s
computer was one of the very few that accessed a specific proxy server. He can’t demon-
strate that Sarah used the proxy to post to a weblog server, but he might conclude that
the fact that the proxy was used to make a weblog post and that she was one of the few
people in the nation to use that proxy constituted evidence that she made the post. Sarah
would do well to use proxies that are popular locally and to switch proxies often.
Here is today how Sarah’s problems can be resolved through blogging with Tor and
Wordpress.
STEP ONE : DISGUISE YOU IP ADDRESS
Every computer on the internet has or shares an IP address. These addresses aren’t the
same hing as physical address, but they can lead a smart system administrator to your
physical address. Sarah feared that her identity would be discovered for the webserver
she was accessing logs her IP address.
Thus :
1. Install Firefox
Download it at the Mozilla site (htt://www.mozilla.org) and install it on the main machine
you blog from.
Why Firefox rather than Internet Explorer? Explorer has some egregious security holas that
can
compromise
your
online
security
(http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/12/internet_explor.html).
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2. Install TOR
Download the programm from the Tor site : http://www.torproject.org/
(If access to Tor main website is blocked in your country, there are a few mirrors of it in
other
places
where
it
can
also
be
downloaded
from
(http://www.torproject.org/mirrors.html.en):

http://tor.cybermirror.org/

http://tor.zdg-gmbh.eu/

http://tor.anonymity.cn/

Pick the “latest stable release” for your platform and download it onto your desktop.
Follow the instructions that are linked to the right of the release you downloaded.
Tor is a very sophisticated network of proxy servers. Proxy servers request a web page on
your behalf, which means that the web server doesn’t see the IP address of the compu-
ter requesting the webpage. When you access Tor, you’re using three different proxy ser-
vers to retrieve each webpage. The pages are encrypted in transit between servers, and
even if one or two of the servers in the chain were compromised, it would be very diffi-
cult to see what webpage you were retrieving or posting to.
Tor installs another piece of software, Privoxy, which increases the security settings on
your browser, blocking cookies and other pieces of tracking software. Conveniently, it also
blocks many ads you encounter on webpages.
3. Install Torbutton
Turning on Tor by hand means remembering to change your browser preferences to use
a proxy server. This is a multistep process, which people sometimes forget to do.
Torbutton makes the process a single mouse click and reminds you whether you’re using
Tor or not, which can be very helpful.
if you’re going to be writing primarily from shared computers (like cybercafe computers)
or you’re unable to install software on a computer. Download XeroBank Browser (xB
Browser) or alternatively Tor on a Stick (ToaSt).
XeroBank is a highly customized version of the Firefox browser with Tor and Privoxy
already installed. It’s designed to be placed on a USB key so that you can access Tor from
shared computers that don’t permit you to install software.
Download the package from the xB Browser site onto a computer where you can save
files. Insert your USB key and copy the xB-Browser.exe onto the key. Using this USB key
and any Windows computer where you can insert a USB key, you can access a Tor-pro-
tected browser. On this shared computer, quit the existing web browser. Insert the key,
find the key’s filesystem on the Desktop, and double-click the xB-Browser_latest.exe. This
will launch a new browser which accesses the web through Tor.
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Test that XeroBank Browser is working by visiting the Tor test site with the Tor-enabled
browser and making sure you get a “Your IP is identified to be a Tor-EXIT” message.
STEP 2 : GENERATE A NEW, HARD TO TRACE EMAIL ACCOUNT
Most web services – including blog hosting services – require an email address so that they
communicate with their users. For our purposes, this email address can’t connect to any
personally identifiable information, including the IP address we used to sign up for the ser-
vice. This means we need a new account which we sign up for using Tor, and we need to
ensure that none of the data we use – name, address, etc. – can be linked to us. You should
NOT use an existing email account – it’s very likely that you signed up for the account from
an undisguised IP, and most webmail providers store the IP address you signed up under.
webmail providers store the IP address you signed up under.
1. Choose a webmail provider
Hushmail, Vaultletsoft and Gmail, but as long as you’re using Tor, you could use Yahoo or
Hotmail as well. Also, you can easily register a free and quick webmail account with fast-
mail.fm.
Hotmail and Yahoo mail both have a “security feature” that makes privacy advocates very
unhappy. Both include the IP address of the computer used to send any email. This isn’t
relevant when you’re accessing those services through Tor, since the IP address will be a
Tor IP address, rather than your IP address. Also, Hotmail and Yahoo don’t offer secure
HTTP (https) interfaces to webmail – again, this doesn’t matter so long as you use Tor every
time you use these mail services. But many users will want to check their mail in circums-
tances where they don’t have Tor installed – for your main webmail account, it’s worth
choosing a provider that has an https interface to mail.
Hushmail provides webmail with a very high degree of security. Their interface to webmail
uses https and they don’t include the sending IP in outgoing emails. But they’re a for-pro-
fit service and they offer only limited services to non-paying users. If you sign up for a free
account, you have to log into it every couple of weeks to make sure the system doesn’t
delete it. Because they’re aggressive about trying to convert free users to paid users, and
because their system uses a lot of Java applets, some find that Hushmail isn’t the right
choice for them.
Gmail, while it doesn’t advertise itself as a secure mail service, has some nice security fea-
turesbuilt in. If you visit this special URL, your entire session with Gmail will be encrypted
via https.
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2. Register your new account
Don’t use any personally identifiable information – consider becoming a boringly named
individual in a country with a lot of web users, like the US or the UK. Set a good, strong
password (at least eight characters, include at least one number or special character) for
the account and set a good, strong password, at least eight characters, include at least one
number or special character.
Choose a username similar to what you’re going to name your blog.
3. Test if it works!
Make sure you’re able to log onto the mail service and send mail while Tor is enabled. It
is most likely that Tor changes its circuit every 10 minutes and this could disrupt your web-
mail operations, so you should consider limiting the process of writing a new email to 10
minutes.
STEP 3 : REGISTER YOUR NEW ANONYMOUS BLOG
You’ll have to be very careful by creating that blog. It requires more attention and caution
than creating a non anonymous blog.
TURN TOR ON IN YOUR BROWSER, OR START XEROBANK
Visit WordPress.com and sign up for a new account by clicking the “Get a New WordPress
Blog” link. Use the email address you just c r e a t ed and c r e a t e a us e rname tha t wi
l l be pa r t of your blog addr e s s : thenameyouchoose.wordpress.com
Wordpress will send an activation link to your webmail account. Use your Tor-enabled
browser to retrieve the mail and follow that activation link. This lets WordPress know
you’ve used a live email account and that they can reach you with updates to their service
- as a result, they’ll make your blog publicly viewable and send you your password. You’ll
need to check your webmail again to retrieve this password.
Still using Tor, log into your new blog using your username and password. Click on “My
Dashboard”, then on “Update your profile or change your password.” Change your pass-
word to a strong password that you can remember. Feel free to add information to your
profile as well… just make sure none of that information is linked to you!
STEP 4 : POST TO YOU BLOG
Write your blog post offline. Not only is this a good way to keep from losing a post if your
browser crashes or your net connection goes down, it means you can compose your
posts somewhere more private than a cybercafe. A simple editor, like Wordpad for
Windows, is usually the best to use. Save your posts as text files (After blogging, always
remember to remove these files from your machine completely, using a tool like Eraser or
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Ccleaner which is is available in many languages and wipes te porary files automatically
from all installed browsers and other applications).
Turn on Tor, or use XeroBank, and log onto WordPress.com. Click the “write” button to
write a new post. Cut and paste the post from your text file to the post window. Give the
post a title and put it into whatever categories you want to use.
Before you hit “Publish”, there’s one key step. Click on the blue bar on the right of the
screen that says “Post Timestamp.” Click the checkbox that says “Edit Timestamp”. Choose
a time a few minutes in the future – ideally, pick a random interval and use a different num-
ber each time. This will put a variable delay on the time your post will actually appear on
the site WordPress won’t put the post up until it reaches the time you’ve specified.
By changing the timestamp of the posts, we make an attack more difficult for the internet
service provider. Now they’d need access to the logs of the WordPress server as well,
which are
much harder to get than their own logs. It’s a very easy step to take that increases your
security.
STEP 5 : COVER YOUR TRACKS
Securely erase the rough drafts of the post you made from your laptop or home machine.
If you used a USB key to bring the post to the cybercafe, you’ll need to erase that, too. It’s
not sufficient to move the file to the trash and empty the trash – you need to use a secure
erasing tool like Eraser or Ccleaner which overwrites the old file with data that makes it
impossible to retrieve. On a Macintosh, this functionality is built it – bring a file to the trash
and choose “Secure Empty Trash” from the Finder Menu.
Clear your browser history, cookies and passwords from Firefox. Under the Tools menu,
select “Clear Private Data”. Check all the checkboxes and hit “okay”. You might want to set
up Firefox so that it automatically clears your data when you quit – you can do this under
“Firefox -> Preferences -> Privacy -> Settings”. Choose the checkbox that says “Clear pri-
vate data when closing Firefox”. In case you cannot install programs on the computer, use
the IE Privacy Cleaner tool from the USB stick to wipe temp browser data.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN
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Ethan Zuckerman is a fellow at the Berkman Center for
Internet and Society at Harvard Law School where his
research focuses on the relationship between citizen jour-
nalism and conventional media, especially in the develo-
ping world. He’s a founder and former director of
Geekcorps, a non-profit organization that focuses on tech-
nology training in the developing world, and was one of
the founders of webhosting company Tripod.
54 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
USEFUL TIPS
TECHNICAL WAYS
TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
By Nart Villeneuve
CONTENTS
• INTERNET CONTENT FILTERING
• CIRCUMVENTION TECHNOLOGIES
• DETERMINING NEEDS AND CAPACITY
• WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTORS
Public Web-based circumvention services
Web-based circumvention software
Web-based circumvention: security concerns
• PROXY SERVERS
Proxy server software
Publicly accessible proxy servers
- Locating open proxies
- Open proxies: uncommon ports
Proxy servers: security concerns
• TUNNELING
• ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
• CONCLUSION
INTERNET CONTENT FILTERING
Filtering technology allows controls to be placed on access to Internet content. Although
the initial focus of such technology was on the individual level – allowing
parents to restrict children’s access to inappropriate content – filtering technology is
now being widely deployed at institutional and national level. Control over access to
Internet content is becoming a priority for a number of institutional actors including
schools, libraries and corporations. Increasingly, filtering technology is being deployed at
national level. Access to specific Internet content is being blocked for entire populations,
often with little accountability.
Content filtering technologies rely on list-based blocking, often in conjunction with
blocking techniques that use keyword matching, to dynamically block Internet content.
Lists of domain names and URLs are compiled and categorized then loaded into filtering
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software which can be configured to block only certain categories. When users try to
access a web page, the filtering software checks its list database and blocks access to any
web page on that list. If keyword blocking is enabled, the software will check each web
page (the domain, URL path and/or body content of the requested page) and dynamically block
access to the web page if any of the banned keywords are present.
Filtering systems are prone to two inherent flaws: over-blocking and under-blocking. They
often block access to wrongly classified content and often do not block all access to the
content they intend to block. But the key issue is the secrecy surrounding the creation of
lists of websites that are blocked by filtering technologies. Although there are some open
source lists (focusing mostly on pornography), commercial filtering lists and lists deployed
at national level are secret. Commercial lists of categorized domains and URLs are the
intellectual property of their manufacturers and not made public. Despite the fact that
some filtering software manufacturers make online URL checkers available, the block lists
as a whole are secret and unavailable for independent scrutiny and analysis.
Often countries will build on commercial filtering technology lists adding specific websites
pertinent to their respective countries. Blocked sites most often include opposition political
parties or newspapers, human rights organizations, international news organizations and
content critical of the government. Most countries focus on local language content, as
opposed to English sites, and increasingly target interactive discussion sites such as web
blogs and web forums.
CIRCUMVENTION TECHNOLOGIES
In response to state-directed Internet filtering and monitoring regimes, many forms of
circumvention technologies have emerged to allow users to bypass filtering restrictions.
There are numerous projects to develop technologies that would enable citizens and civil
society networks to secure themselves against, or work around, Internet censorship and
surveillance. These tools as are referred to as “circumvention technologies.” In general,
circumvention technologies work by routing a user’s request from a country that imple-
mented filtering through an intermediary machine that is not blocked by the filtering regime.
This computer then retrieves the requested content for the censored user and transmits
the content back to the user. Sometimes, these technologies may be specifically designed
for a particular filtering situation or customized for a specific country. Other times, users
may simply adapt existing technologies for circumvention purposes even though that may
not be the original purpose of the technology.
Some of these technologies are developed by private companies, others by ad-hoc
groups of hackers and activists. They range from small, simple scripts and programs to
highly-developed peer-to-peer network protocols. Given the range of the technologies
involved it is necessary for potential users to be able to weigh the strengths and weaknesses
of specific techniques and technologies so as to choose the appropriate circumvention
technologies that suit their needs.
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There are two users of circumvention technologies: the circumvention provider and the
circumvention user. The circumvention provider installs software on a computer in a non-
filtered location and makes this service available to those who access the Internet from a
censored location. Thus successful circumvention relies on meeting the specific needs of
both users.
This paper aims to inform users who have made the decision to use circumvention
technologies of the available options and how to assess which is best suited to the specific
needs of the user. This is done by determining the needs and capacity of the users involved
– those using as well as those running the circumvention technology – while balancing the
appropriate level of security with the technologies’ usability by the end-user. Effective,
secure, and stable circumvention is achieved by matching the right technology with the
right user.
DETERMINING NEEDS AND CAPACITY
Circumvention technologies often target different types of users with varying resources
and levels of expertise. What may work well in one scenario may not be the best option
in another. When choosing a circumvention technology it is important for the potential
circumvention provider and user to ask these questions :
What is the number of expected users and the available bandwidth? (for the circumvention
provider and the user).
Where is the primary point of Internet access for the expected user(s) and what will they
be using it for?
What is the level of technical expertise? (for the circumvention provider and the user).
What is the availability of trusted out-of-country contacts for the end-user?
What is the level of expected penalty if the user is caught using circumvention technology ?
• Does the end-user properly understand the potential security risks of using the specific
circumvention technology?
NUMBER OF USERS AND AVAILABLE BANDWIDTH
The circumvention provider needs to estimate the number of users the circumvention
technology is intended for and balance that with the available bandwidth. The end-user
must also take into account their bandwidth as circumvention technology will slow their
Internet use.
People interested in running public proxies need to consider that their circumventor may
be used by persons who are not in censored locations. For example, circumventors may
be used to download entire movies which will use a lot of bandwidth. Therefore you may
wish to restrict access to your circumventor or how much total bandwidth you’d like to
circumventor to be restricted to. Different available technologies provide some or all of
these options.
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PRIMARY POINT OF ACCESS AND USE
There will be varying options of applicable circumvention technologies depending on
where the end-users access the Internet and what services they need to run through the
circumvention system. For example, users who access the Internet from public computers
or Internet cafés may not be able to install any software and will be restricted to web-based
solutions. Others may want to use applications besides Web browsing (HTTP), such as e-
mail (SMTP) and file transfers (FTP), and thus may want to install software on their com-
puter workstation and to tweak their computer’s settings. Of course, this requires a cer-
tain level of technical skill on the part of that user.
LEVEL OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
The greater the level of technical expertise (and limited number of users) the more circum-
vention options increase. The barriers to non-technical users include the installation and
set-up process as well as any configuration changes or extra steps that must be taken
when actually using the circumvention technology. This applies to both the circumvention
provider and the end-user. The incorrect use of circumvention technology may put users
at avoidable risk.
AVAILABILITY OF TRUSTED CONTACTS
End-users can greatly enhance their circumvention options if they know and trust persons
outside their country. If a user does not have a trusted contact then their options are limited
to publicly available systems and if the user can locate these systems so can those imple-
menting the filtering and blocking. With a trusted contact the end-user can consult with
the circumvention provider to find a solution that meets their specific needs and can be
kept private to avoid detection. Successful, long-term and stable circumvention is greatly
enhanced by having a trusted contact in a non-filtered location.
THE EXPECTED PENALTY
It is extremely important to know the penalty users face if they are caught using circumvention
technology. Depending on the severity, options will vary. If the legal environment is lax and
the expected penalty low, users can choose from a variety of options which, while effective
at circumvention, are not very secure. If the environment is extremely dangerous, care
must be taken to implement technologies that are both discreet and secure. Some may even
be used with a legitimate cover story or other forms of obfuscation.
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SECURITY RISKS
Too often users are encouraged to use circumvention technology without being properly
informed of the potential security risks, which can be minimized by deploying the right
technology in the right place and used correctly by the end-user.
WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTORS
Web-based circumventors are special web pages that contain a web form that allows users
to simply submit a URL and have the web-based circumventor retrieve the content of the
requested web page and display it to the user. There is no connection between the user
and the requested website,
and the circumventor transpa-
rently proxies the request allo-
wing to user to browse
blocked websites seamlessly.
Web-based circumventors
also re-write the links in the
requested web page to point
back through the circumven-
tor itself so that the user can
continue web surfing nor-
mally. When using a web-
based circumventor, the end-
user does not have to install
Proxy servers / change the navigator settings
any software or change any
of their browser settings. All
the end-user has to do is visit
the URL of the circumventor,
enter the URL they wish to
visit in the form located on
the circumventor page and
press the submit button.
(Web-based circumventors
may look different from one
another but the basic functio-
nality is the same). Thus no
level of expertise is required
and it can be used from any
point of access.
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Advantages :
Web-based circumvention systems are easy to use and no software needs to be installed
at the end-user level.
Public web-based circumvention services are available to users who do not have a trusted
contact in an unfiltered location.
Private web-based circumvention systems can be customized to meet the specific circum-
vention needs to users and are less likely to be found by the filtering authorities.
Disadvantages :
Web-based circumvention systems are often restricted to web traffic (HTTP) and may not
be accessible by encrypted access (SSL). Web services (such as web-based email) that
require authentication may not be fully functional.
Public web-based circumvention services are generally well known and may already be
blocked. Most of these services are already blocked by commercial filtering software.
Private web-based circumvention systems require that a user have a contact in an unfiltered
location. Ideally, the two parties must be able to communicate in some way that isn’t easily
monitored.
PUBLIC WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION SERVICES
There is publicly available web-based circumvention software as well as services. Most
provide free service while some have more options, such as encrypted access, available
with a paid subscription. Some are operated by companies, others by volunteers as a
public service. A few examplzs:

http://www.anonymizer.com/

http://www.unipeak.com/

http://www.anonymouse.ws/

http://www.proxyweb.net/

http://www.guardster.com/

http://www.webwarper.net/

http://www.proximal.com/

http://www.the-cloak.com/

Since the web addresses of these services are widely known, most Internet filtering appli-
cations already have these services on their block lists as do many countries that filter at
national level. If the web addresses of these services are blocked they cannot be used. Also,
many public web-based circumventors do not encrypt the traffic between the circumventor
and the end-user. Any information transmitted by the user can be intercepted by the
operator of the circumvention service.
Public Web-based circumvention services are best suited for users in low security risk envi-
ronments who are without trusted contacts in non-filtered locations and have temporary or
ad-hoc circumvention needs and who do not need to transmit sensitive information.
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WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION SOFTWARE
Installation of web-based circumvention software can require some level of technical exper-
tise and appropriate resources (a web server and bandwidth). With a private circumventor,
the location is only made known to the intended users whereas public circumventors and
anonymity services are known to both users and those implementing filtering (and are on
most commercial filtering software’s blocklists). The chances of private circumventors being
detected are blocked and lower than that of public circumvention services.
Private circumventors can be set up with some level of customization tailored to the speci-
fic needs of the end-user. Some common customizations are changing the port number
that the web server runs on and implementing encryption. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a
protocol for transmitting content securely over the Internet. It is often used by websites to
securely transmit information, such as credit card numbers. SSL-enabled websites are
accessed with “HTTPS” instead of the normal “HTTP”.
Another option when using SSL is creating an innocuous web page at the root of the web
server and concealing the circumventor with a random path and file name. Although an
intermediary may be able to determine the server the user is connecting to, they will not
be able to determine the requested path because that part of the request is encrypted. For
example, if a user connects to “https://example.com/secretcircumventor/” an interme-
diary will be able to determine that the user connected to example.com but they will not
know that the user requested the circumventor. If the circumventor operator places an
innocuous page at example.com, then even if any monitoring is occurring the circumven-
tor will not be discovered.
• CGIProxy: A CGI script acts as an HTTP or FTP proxy.

http://www.jmarshall.com/tools/cgiproxy

• Peacefire’s Circumventor: An automated installer program that makes it much easier
for non-technical users to install and configure CGIProxy.

http://www.peacefire.org/circumventor/simple-circumventor-instructions.html

• pHproxy: An experimental, highly configurable web-based circumventor.

http://ice.citizenlab.org/projects/phproxy

• Psiphon: An SSL-enabled webserver with built-in web-based circumventor.

http://psiphon.civisec.org

Private web-based circumventors, with encryption enabled, are best suited for users that
require stable circumvention services for web traffic and have trusted contacts in non-
filtered locations that have sufficient technical skills and available bandwidth to set up and
maintain the web-based circumventor. This is the most flexible circumvention option
available for simple web traffic and is least likely to be discovered and blocked.
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WEB-BASED CIRCUMVENTION: SECURITY CONCERNS
Circumvention systems do not necessarily provide anonymity. Although the end-users
identity is shielded from the operators of the websites visited. If the session between the
user and the web-based circumventor is in plain text (HTTP), as with most free services,
the content can be easily intercepted and analyzed by an intermediary such as an Internet
service provider (ISP). So although circumvention may be successful, the authorities can
still track the fact that the user has visited and used a web-based circumventor. Moreover
they can determine what content, including what websites the user visited, was exchanged
between the web-based circumventor and the end-user.
Web-based circumventors that operate in plain text mode (non-encrypted) sometimes use
URL obfuscation to counter filtering conducted by looking for key words in Uniform
Resource Locators (URL). For example, using a simple technique such as ROT-13, where
the current letter is replaced by the one 13 characters ahead of it in the alphabet, the URL
http://ice.citizenlab.org becomes uggc://vpr.pvgvmrayno.bet. In effect, the text of the
URL is encoded so that the key words the filtering technology is scanning for will not be
present in the requested URL. However, the content of the session can still be sniffed even
if the circumvention was successful.
There are also risks concerning the use of cookies and scripts. Many web-based circum-
ventors can be configured to remove cookies and scripts, but many sites (e.g. webmail
sites) require the use of cookies and scripts. Care should be taken when enabling these
options. Another related risk, especially when using services that require logins/pass-
words, is accessing the circumventor through a plaintext connection and then using it to
request information from an encrypted server. In this scenario, the circumventor retrieves
the request information from the SSL-enabled server through an encrypted transmission,
but then sends the contents in plain text back to the user, thus exposing the sensitive
information to possible interception.
Some of these security issues can be solved by using web-based proxies through an
encrypted connection. Some web-based proxies are configured to be access using SSL
(HTTPS), which encrypts the connection between the end-user and the web-based cir-
cumventor. In this scenario, intermediaries can only observe the fact that the user has
connected to the web-based circumventor and cannot determine the content of the ses-
sion. It is highly recommended that users ensure they use SSL-enabled web-based cir-
cumventors if the security risks are high.
However, although the end-user’s connection to the web-based circumventor may be
secure, any information passing through a web-based circumventor can be intercepted by
the owner of the web-based circumventor. An additional security concern is the records
that the circumvention provider keeps. Depending on the circumventor’s location, or the
location of their server, authorities may have access to their log files.
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There are still some concerns that users should be aware of, even when using SSL-
enabled web-based circumventors. One is that using encryption may draw extra attention
to the users’ circumvention activities, and the use of encryption may not be legal in all
locations. Also, it may be possible for the filtering authorities to determine what websites
a user visits through a web-based circumventor, even when using SSL encryption using
techniques known as HTTPS fingerprinting and Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks.
However, pages with dynamic content or circumventors that add random amounts of
decoy text or images to requested content can reduce this technique to a level of insigni-
ficant risk. If users are provided with the “fingerprint”, or security signature, of the SSL
certificate they can manually verify that the certificate is in fact authentic, thus avoiding the
MITM attack (1).
PROXY SERVERS
A “proxy server” is a server
that is situated between a
client, such as a web brow-
ser, and a server, such as a
web server. The proxy server
acts a buffer between the
client and the server and can
support a variety of data
requests including web traffic
(HTTP), file transfers (FTP)
and encrypted traffic (SSL).
Proxy servers are used by
individuals, institutions, and states for a variety of purposes including security, anonymity,
caching and filtering. To use a proxy server, the end-user must configure the settings of
their web browser with the IP address or hostname of the proxy server as well as the port
number that the proxy server is running on. While this is fairly simple, it may not be
possible to modify browser settings in public Internet access locations such as libraries,
Internet cafés and workplaces.
1 For more on potential attacks on circumvention systems, see Bennett Haselton’s article
(“List of possible weaknesses in systems to circumvent Internet censorship”)
at http://peacefire.org/circumventor/list-of-possible-weaknesses.html and a reply by Paul
Baranowski at: www.peek-a-booty.org/pbhtml/downloads/ResponseToLopwistcic.pdf
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Advantages:
There are many software packages to choose from that can transparently proxy traffic in
addition to web traffic (HTTP) and can be configured to operate on non-standard ports.
There are many publicly accessible proxy servers.
Disadvantages:
Most proxy servers are not enabled with encryption by default, therefore the traffic
between the user and the proxy is not secure.
The user must have the necessary permissions to change the browser settings, and if ISP’s
require that all traffic go through the ISP’s proxy server it may not be possible to use an
open proxy server.
The scanning for and use of publicly accessible proxy servers may be illegal and these
proxies may become unavailable to the user at any time.
PROXY SERVER SOFTWARE
Proxy server software can be installed by trusted contacts with some degree of technical
expertise located outside of the country that filters. Proxy server software should be
installed in locations where there is plenty of available bandwidth and should be configured
to use encryption technology. It is especially useful for situations in which an office or
small organization is in need of a stable circumvention solution. After users in the filtered
locations configure their browsers to point through the proxy server they can transparently
surf the Internet. While not the most stealthy circumvention solution, private proxy servers
are a more robust solution than web-based proxy systems. Proxy servers are better than
web-based proxies at seamlessly proxying sites that require authentication and cookies,
such as web mail sites. The proxy servers can also be customized to meet the specific
needs of the end-user and adapt to the local filtering environment.
• Squid is free proxy server software and can be secured with Stunnel server.

http://www.squid-cache.org

http://www.stunnel.org

http://ice.citizenlab.org/projects/aardvark

• Privoxy is a proxy with advanced filtering capabilities for protecting privacy.

http://www.privoxy.org

• Secure Shell (SSH) has a built-in socks proxy ($ ssh -D port secure.host.com)

http://www.openssh.com

• HTTPport/HTTPhost allows you to bypass your HTTP proxy, which is blocking you
from the Internet.
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Private proxy servers with encryption enabled are best suited for groups or users in an office
environment that require a permanent, stable circumvention solution and have trusted
contacts with sufficient technical skills and available bandwidth outside the country to
install and maintain the proxy server.
PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE PROXY SERVERS
Open proxies are servers that are intentionally or otherwise left open for connections from
remote computers. It is not explicitly known if open proxy servers have been set up as a
public service or if they have been just badly configured to inadvertently allow public
access.
WARNING: Depending on the interpretation of local law, the use of open proxy servers
may be viewed as ‘unauthorized access’ and open proxy users may subject to legal penalties.
The use of open proxy servers is not recommended.
Locating open proxies
Many websites maintain lists of open proxy servers, but this not a guarantee that the proxy
service is still available. Nothing guarantees that the information on these lists, especially
information concerning anonymity level and geographical location of the proxy, is accu-
rate. Be aware that you are using these services at your own risk.
Open proxy list websites:

http://www.samair.ru/proxy/

http://www.antiproxy.com/

http://tools.rosinstrument.com/proxy/

http://www.multiproxy.org/

http://www.publicproxyservers.com/

Software: ProxyTools/LocalProxy

http://proxytools.sourceforge.net

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Open proxies: uncommon ports
Some countries that filter at national level block access to standard proxy ports. A “port”
is a logical connection location used by specific protocols. Different Internet services pass
data through on particular port numbers. Certain port numbers are assigned, by the
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), to specific protocols or services. For exam-
ple, port 80 is reserved for HTTP traffic. When you access a website in your browser you
are actually connecting to a web server running on port 80. Proxy servers also have ports
that are assigned to them by default. Therefore many filtering technologies will not allow
access to these ports. Therefore successful circumvention may require use of a proxy that
has been configured to operate on a non-standard port.

http://www.web.freerk.com/proxylist.htm

PROXY SERVERS: SECURITY CONCERNS
The configuration of proxy servers is extremely important because it controls the security
or anonymity of a connection. In addition to the lack of use of encryption, proxy servers
may pass information about the end-user to the server the content has been requested
from that can be used to identify the IP address of the computer initiating the request for
content. Moreover, all the communication between you and the proxy server may be in
plain text, thus easily intercepted by upstream filtering authorities. And any information
passing through the proxy server can be intercepted by the owner of the proxy server.
The scanning for and use of publicly accessible proxy servers is not recommended. Open
proxy servers are often used due to their availability but they do not provide any security
despite the fact that they may be able to successfully circumvent Internet filtering.
As with web-based proxies, proxy servers are subject to the same security concern.
Harmful scripts and cookies will still be transmitted to the end-user and even if used in
conjunction with encryption technology, proxy servers can also be subject to MITM and
HTTPS fingerprinting attacks. It should also be noted that some browsers will leak sensi-
tive information when using a socks proxy, a particular type of proxy server capable of
handling other types of traffic in addition to web traffic. When making a request for a web-
site the domain name is translated into an IP address. Some browsers do this locally so
the process is not directed through the proxy. In these cases, the request for the blocked
website’s IP address will be handled by Domain Name System (DNS) servers in the coun-
try that implements filtering (2).
2 For more, see the Tor site: http://tor.eff.org/cvs/tor/doc/CLIENTS
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The use of open, publicly accessible proxy servers is not usually advisable and should only
be used by people in low security risk environments with temporary or ad-hoc anonymity
needs and who do not need to transmit sensitive information.
TUNNELING
Tunneling, also known as port
forwarding, allows one to
encapsulate insecure, unen-
crypted traffic within an
encrypted protocol. The user
in a censored location must
download client software that
creates a tunnel to a compu-
ter in a non-filtered location.
The normal services on the
user’s computer are available,
but run through the encryp-
ted tunnel to the non-filtered
Tunneling software
computer which forward the
user’s requests and their res-
ponses transparently. Various tunneling products are available. Users with contacts in a
non-filtered country can set up private tunneling services while those without contacts can
purchase commercial tunneling services, usually by monthly subscription.
When using free tunneling services users should note that they often include advertise-
ments. Requests for the advertisements are conducted through plain text HTTP requests
which can be intercepted by any intermediary who can then determine that the user is
using a tunneling service. Moreover, many tunneling services rely on the use of socks
proxies which may leak domain name requests.

http://www.http-tunnel.com/

http://www.hopster.com/

http://www.htthost.com/

Advantages:
Tunneling applications provide encrypted network transfer.
Tunneling applications generally have the ability to securely proxy many protocols, not just
web traffic.
There are existing commercial services that users who do not have contacts in non-
filtered countries can purchase.
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Disadvantages:
Commercial tunneling services are publicly known and may already be filtered.
Tunneling applications cannot be used by users in public access locations where users
cannot install software, such as Internet cafés or libraries.
Use of tunneling applications may require a higher level of technical expertise than other
circumvention methods.
Tunneling applications are best suited for technically capable users that require secure (but
not anonymous) circumvention services for more than just web traffic and do not access
the Internet from public locations. Commercial tunneling services are an excellent resource
for users in censored countries that do not have trusted contacts in non-filtered locations.
ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
Circumvention technologies and anonymous communications systems are similar and
often inter-related but operate under distinctly different criteria. Anonymous communications
systems focus on ensuring the privacy of the user by shielding the identity of the requesting
user from the content provider. In addition, advanced systems employ a variety of routing
techniques to ensure that the user’s identity is shielded from the anonymous communications
system itself. Circumvention systems do not necessarily focus on anonymity. Instead,
the focus is on secure communications to bypass specific restrictions imposed on the
users’ ability to send and receive Internet communications. Bypassing content restrictions
requires secure communications technology and often a degree of stealth but not
necessarily anonymity.
Anonymous communications systems are often used for circumvention. One advantage of
them is that there are several existing networks that can be immediately tapped into and used
to bypass content restrictions with the added benefit of being able to do so anonymously.
The use of anonymous communica-
tions systems for circumvention is
restricted to computers on which the
user has the appropriate permissions
to install software. Persons who
access the Internet through public
terminals, libraries or Internet cafés
will most likely be unable to use such
systems for circumvention. They may
also slow down connection speeds.
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Users seeking to bypass Internet filtering at national or ISP level may find the filtering
authorities take steps to block the use of anonymous communications systems. If the sys-
tem being used operates on a static port, filtering software can easily be configured to
deny access. The more well-known the anonymous communications system, the greater
the risk that it will be blocked. In addition, to combat systems that rely on the use of peers
or publicly known nodes the filtering authorities can simply deny access to these hosts.
The filtering authorities may operate a node of their own and attempt to monitor users who
try to connect to it. In some restrictive environments where traffic to these well-known
systems is monitored, the use of such systems may draw attention to users (3).
Advantages:
They provide both security and anonymity.
They generally have the ability to securely proxy many protocols, not just web traffic.
They often have a community of users and developers who can provide technical assistance.
Disadvantages:
They are not specifically designed for circumvention. They are publicly known and may be
filtered easily.
They cannot be used by users in public access locations where users cannot install soft-
ware, such as Internet cafés or libraries.
• Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their
privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new
communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a
range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over
public networks without compromising their privacy.

http://tor.eff.org

• JAP makes it possible to surf the Internet anonymously. Instead of connecting directly
to a web server, users take a detour, connecting with encryption through several inter-
mediaries, so-called mixes.
o http://anon.inf.tu-dresden.de/index_en.html
• Freenet is free software which lets you publish and obtain information on the Internet
without fear of censorship. It is entirely decentralized and publishers and consumers of
information are anonymous.

http://freenet.sourceforge.net

3 For more on potential attacks on circumvention systems, see Bennett Haselton’s article
(“List of possible weaknesses in systems to circumvent Internet censorship”)
at http://peacefire.org/circumventor/list-of-possible-weaknesses.html
and a reply by Paul Baranowski at: www.peek
booty.org/pbhtml/downloads/ResponseToLopwistcic.pdf
69 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP
Use of such systems may require quite a high level of technical expertise.
Anonymous communications systems are best suited for technically capable users who
require both circumvention and anonymity services for more than just web traffic and do
not access the Internet from public locations.
CONCLUSION
The decision to use circumvention technology should be taken seriously, carefully analyzing
the specific needs, available resources and security concerns of the end-user. There is a
wide variety of technologies available for users who want to circumvent Internet filtering.
However, using them for successful and stable circumvention service depends on a variety
of factors, including the user’s level of technical skill, potential security risk, and contacts
available outside the censored country. Governments may also take counter-measures to
effectively block specific circumvention technologies.
The keys to successful and stable circumvention capability are trust and performance.
Circumvention systems need to be targeted to users in specific circumstances or be
readily adaptable to the needs of the end-user. They need to be secure, configurable and
often stealthy. Trust should be established between circumvention provider and the end-
user by understanding the specific legal and political environment in which the end-user
operates and being up-front about the limitations of circumvention technologies.
Nart Villeneuve is the director of technical research at the Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory
based at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. As both a software
developer and academic, he is currently working with the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), documenting
Internet content filtering and surveillance practices worldwide. He has also been working on documen-
ting and evaluating existing circumvention technology as well as developing circumvention technology.
In addition to Internet censorship, his research interests include hacktivism, cyberterrorism and
Internet security. Nart Villeneuve is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Peace and Conflict
Studies program.
Acknowledgements
Michelle Levesque, Derek Bambauer and Bennett Haselton.
70 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CONFIDENTIALITY
ENSURING YOUR
E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
By Ludovic Pierrat
M
ost governments now have the means to spy on electronic messages. The
“cyberpolice” in repressive countries use it to spot and arrest political
opponents and many Internet users have been thrown in prison for sending
or even just forwarding an e-mail. A political dissident in the Maldives was given a 15-
year jail sentence in 2002 for corresponding by e-mail with Amnesty International. An
Internet user in Syria has been in prison since February 2003 for forwarding an e-mail
newsletter.
So here are some tips on how to ensure your e-mails remain private.
Using the e-mail account supplied by your Internet service provider (ISP), such as AOL,
Wanadoo or Free, or by a firm doesn’t guarantee any e-mail confidentiality. The owners of
the networks your messages pass through can very easily intercept them. When the autho-
rities in any country want to investigate Internet users, they usually go through their ISP to
read their e-mail.
A “webmail” account (such as Yahoo! or Hotmail) is more secure because it doesn’t use the
servers of a local ISP. To read webmail messages, you have to force your way in or intercept
messages as they’re being transmitted, which is technically more difficult. Unfortunately this
protection is only relative, since police experts or hackers can easily look at your webmail.
Encryption (writing protected by a code) is the main way to really ensure the privacy of your
messages. There are two kinds.
CLASSIC ENCRYPTION
Ann and Michael want to exchange secret messages, so they agree on an encryption and
decryption code and a key. Then they exchange messages using them.
The snag with this method is that if a third person intercepts the messages in which Ann
and Michael exchange their key, that person can see it and use it, perhaps to send bogus
e-mails to Ann and Michael. So Ann and Michael have to exchange their key when
nobody else can see it, by meeting in person, for example.
71 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE
ASSYMETRIC ENCRYPTION
The best way to fix the problem is to use “asymmetric” encryption. Two keys are needed
for this, one to encrypt, the other to decrypt. Details of the encrypting key (the “public
key”) can be exchanged without risk over the Internet because it can’t be used to decrypt
messages. The decrypting key (the “secret key”) must never be communicated.
With asymmetric encryption, Ann has her own pair of keys (a public key that she gives out
and a secret one that she keeps). Ann sends her key to Michael, who uses it to encrypt his
messages to her. Only Ann, with her secret key, can then decrypt Michael’s messages.
Michael, with his own pair of keys, in turn sends his public key to Ann, who can then reply
to his messages in complete privacy.
But since the public key is exchanged over the Internet without special protection, it’s best
to check its validity with its owner. Each key has a “fingerprint” (a short string of characters),
which it’s easy to communicate in person or over the phone.
An unverified key may be a false one issued by a third person with evil intent, making the
encryption totally useless. The reliability of assymetric encryption depends entirely on
protecting the secret key and checking the public key of the other person.
OpenPGP (Open Pretty Good Privacy) is the standard asymmetric encryption. The most
popular software to create and use a pair of keys and manage the public keys of its corres-
pondents is GnuPG (GNU Privacy Guard), which can be used both with mail programmes
such as Thunderbird or Outlook, with webmail or with instant messaging.
Download GnuPG at : www.gnupg.org
Download special version for Windows at : www.winpt.org
Ludovic Pierrat is a computer engineer who runs Wa Company, an information technology consultancy
and production firm.
72 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
OF CYBER-CHAMPIONSHIP
By Clothilde Le Coz
M
ost of the world’s authoritarian regimes are trying to control what their
citizens read and do online. They’re getter better and better at blocking
“objectionable” material, usually with technology bought from US firms.
China is far and away the world champion. But it’s felt the heat of competition in recent
years. Each country in this far from complete list has its own style and tactics but
they all have one purpose, to keep ahead of the game.
OVERALL WINNER : CHINA
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the state have deployed huge human and
financial resources to prevent the emergence of genuine freedom of expression
online. News websites have been put under the editorial supervision of propaganda
bodies at national and local level. With 48 cyber-dissidents behind bars, China syste-
matically cracks down on bloggers. The government wants to keep control of news and
information and censors the Net through a subtle mix of filtering and dissuasion.
Several billion dollars have reportedly already been spent on censorship online. Since
the summer 2007, two “cyber-police officers” appear on the screen of computers in
cyber-cafes to warn Internet-users that they are being watched. The country is on its
way to becoming the biggest Internet sector market in the world, ahead of the United
States, and attracts more and more foreign companies, some of whom are ready to
censor their networks.
BEST CRACKDOWN : IRAN
Internet is playing an ever greater part in Iranian society, which is strongly displeasing
to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad who cannot bear to see his policies given a rough
ride. The government has therefore equipped itself with a legal means of Web censor-
ship. From 2006 onwards, all websites have had to register with the authorities and
access providers have to ensure that “banned” content is not published by their ser-
vers. Photo-sharing site FlickR and video-sharing YouTube are inaccessible because of
75 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
some items considered by the authorities to be “immoral”. The Net however remains
the vehicle of social expression and allows women, for example, to demand their
rights. Online journalists who post articles on women’s magazines are regularly
brought before the Tehran court for questioning. The authorities in 2007 arrested a
score of male and female bloggers because of their online activities.
BEST SUPPORTING ROLE : US COMPANY YAHOO!
Thanks to its co-operation, the Chinese authorities have been able to put four cyber-
dissidents in prison.
Shi Tao, a 37-year-old journalist on Dangdai Shang Bao
(Contemporary Trade News) was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2005 for “illegally
divulging state secrets abroad”, on the basis of information supplied to the govern-
ment by the US company. He was found guilty of having posted on foreign-based web-
sites an internal memo sent to his paper by the authorities. It warned journalists of the
danger of social destabilisation and risks linked to the return of certain dissidents on
the 15 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The US company is now facing
two sets of legal proceedings over the help it gave to the authorities. During a hearing
on the Shi Tao case before the US Congress, the company’s president, Jerry Yang,
publicly apologised for the “misunderstanding” which put the journalist in prison and
said it had been decided to create a fund dedicated to helping the families of cyber-
dissidents.
BEST NEWCOMER : ZIMBABWE
The Web is not sufficiently entrenched in the country for the government to operate
mass censorship, however Internet-users are openly spied on by the government,
which concentrates on email. The govern-
Président Robert Mugabe
ment in August 2007 adopted a law authori-
sing surveillance of all communications, via
telephone or electronic. A request can even
be made “orally” in “urgent or exceptional
circumstances”. Posting an article online that
is critical of the government is extremely
risky for the author. Censorship is carried
out by the national telecommunications
company TelOne which is closely controlled
by the government of President Robert
Mugabe. The company can ask access pro-
viders to monitor online communications
with a simple request. The text of the agree-
ment also asks them to “take the necessary
steps” to prevent the spread of illegal
content on the Net.
Le président Ben Ali
76 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY : BURMA
From the end of August to mid-October 2007, Burma went through its biggest upri-
sing since the 1988 student demonstrations, when a brutal crackdown left 3,000
dead. The monks rebelled against falling living standards for the Burmese, bringing
thousands of demonstrators out on to the streets with them. Faced by this “saffron
revolution” the government deliberately cut off the country so that no evidence could
get out. Between 28 September and 16 October 2007, the two access providers cut
their Internet connections on the orders of the military junta. During this two-week
blackout, Internet was only accessible for a few hours a day and all cyber-cafés were
closed. For the Burmese, the only way of getting news was via satellite television or
foreign radio stations
BEST FILTERING : SAUDI ARABIA
Unlike China or Iran, the Saudi filters make it clear that the authorities censor the Web.
Many websites dealing with social life are
inaccessible. Nearly 400,000 Web pages
are blocked in the kingdom because of
their “immoral” content, linked for exam-
ple to homosexuality or women’s rights.
A commission is also to produce quality
labels to “protect Saudi society” from
this type of content. It was even decided
to strengthen the law to fight terrorism,
fraud, pornography, defamation or viola-
tion of religious values. Blogger Fouad
al-Farhan was arrested and taken to pri-
son in Jeddah on 10 December 2007 for
having posted a commentary on the
advantages and disadvantages of being
Muslim.
King Abdallah Ben Abdel Aziz al-Saud
BEST CENSOR : VIETNAM
Internet penetration in Vietnam is higher than in China. From 2001, all Internet-
users on the Vietnamese network are responsible for the content which they
create, distribute or archive. Access providers received an order in 2006 to install
software allowing them to keep their customers’ details for one year. Filtering of
political content is the responsibility of the interior ministry. The state is a share-
holder in all access providers and can therefore easily keep them under control.
77 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS
BEST SET : CUBA
Since Reporters Without Borders’ esca-
pade on this dream island in 2006,
access to the Internet has worsened still
further. There is only one remaining
cyber-café left open in the centre of
Havana. Cubans mostly have to use an
Intranet (messaging, navigator and
news) because access to the internatio-
nal network is very expensive. The
government has no hesitation in silen-
cing the most critical voices. Private
Internet connections are considered to
be illegal and an Internet-user can be
sentenced to five years in prison for not
respecting this rule. But he can also be
sentenced to 20 years in prison for pos-
ting a “counter-revolutionary” article on
foreign websites.
Clothilde Le Coz is head of the Internet Freedom desk at Reporters Without Borders
78 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
CRE DITS
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
International Secretariat
47,rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
Tél.: 33 1 4483-8484
Fax: 33 1 4523-1151
Website : http://www.rsf.org
Original graphic design and extra illustrations: Nuit de Chine
Copyright: Reporters Without Borders 2008
Support RSF’s campaign on http://www.rsf.org
79 I REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
HANDBOOK OF
BLOGGERS
AND
CYBER-DISSIDENTS
loggers
cause
anxiety.
Governments are wary of these
men and women, who post news
without officially being journalists.
Worse, they frequently raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “traditio-
nal”, dare not cover. In some countries, blogs have become a new source of news.
This updated version of the Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents is available in
French and English on the website http://www.rsf.org. The handbook offers advice and
technical tips for the best way to launch a blog and how to get round online censorship.
It includes an explanation of how to blog anonymously and contains articles by blog-
gers, particularly in Egypt and Burma.
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
www.rsf.org

http://demaa.org/sites/default/files/rsf.org-handbook-for-cyberdissidents.pdf
About author
A #globalrevolution enthusiast. Twitter: @AliceKhatib
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