Daily Tech Notes » censorship

Organizations, schools and even Internet cafes are using Internet filters such as Net Nanny and CyberPatrol to block access to specific Web sites.  In fact when it comes to children accessing the Web, these softwares are required to shield them from po*n sites. Unfortunately the same tools are used against freedom of speech as well.

Schools and organizations mainly use these tools to block po*nography sites and social bookmarking sites such as orkut, facebook and myspace. One of the easiest mechanisms used to bypass these controls is the Web proxy.  There is a cat and mouse chase between system administrators and proxy operators. The more sites/ip addresses are banned, more new ones appear everyday!

Some of the content filter software are intelligent enough to look for keywords in the content access and block it. But this method is unreliable and can cause problems with allowed Internet access.

But using web proxies to access banned Web sites is not a good idea! Here is why,

It is against company/school rules! – The Internet filters are installed for a purpose. Trying to bypass them will violate the rules of the school or the organization from which you are using the proxy site. This can lead to loss of your job or you may get suspended from the school. Remember, it is easy for an administrator to find out that you are using a Web proxy.

Identity theft – The proxy servers you access may be run by anonymous people. They don’t run it for charity. Most of them run the proxy servers to earn advertising money and some of them even use it for identity theft! When you access orkut via a proxy server, your login/password is going through the proxy server. The proxy administrator can easily capture your login information to steal your identity. So never use a proxy server to access your bank accounts or credit card accounts!

Now if you are one of those proxy administrators, beware of the risks involved in running a proxy server. People may use your proxy server for various spam activities such as email spam. Similarly they may use your proxy server to initiate hacking attempts at important Web sites. In many countries (India for example) for any illegal activity via the proxy server, the proxy administrator is legally liable!

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