July 25, 2006

Scatterchat and Tor vs. The Great Firewall of China

Hacktivismo has just released Scatterchat, an IM tool intended to beat repressive regimes’ firewalls. Unlike other anonymizer types of tools that use Chinese repression mainly as a marketing hook, Scattershot seems to truly be focused on its stated goal. I haven’t figured out whether it does much clever other than leverage Tor, an anonymous network established by the Electronic Freedom Foundation to try to beat traffic analysis. This all sounds like a perfect example of what I’ve been calling for — technological creativity directed at beating technological repression.

But I must admit — I question how well Tor can be made to work inside a repressive country. If all internet communications can be monitored, what’s to keep Tor servers from being quickly identified, and their operators punished? And so I continue to doubt that any one magic bullet will ever beat Chinese repression; rather, an ongoing cat-and-mouse-game is needed.


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