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Internet tool fights censorship by making banned data look 'normal'

Internet tool fights censorship by making banned data look 'normal'
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|August 25, 2015 6:57 PM

It's getting harder to evade censorship in countries like China and Iran, which have increasingly taken to blocking VPNs, the Tor network and any other service that might let you see the unflattering truth. A clever new tool should help you leap over those hurdles, however. Marionette, developed by researchers at RedJack and Portland State University, masks your visits to banned sites and services by making your data transmissions seem innocuous. It doesn't just disguise the traffic type -- you can program it to mimic the variances you'd expect from a given form of traffic (say, a voice chat) and respond in a convincing way when the censors' blocking software comes calling.

Marionette's source code is available right now, but it may be a while before it's in widespread use -- if you're a political dissident, you don't want the software to break and let governments catch you in the act. Don't be surprised if it flourishes, though. The hope is that it might find its way into Tor, giving the anonymity network's users a ready-made way to escape online oppression. While there's a good chance that authoritarian regimes will eventually find a way to stop Marionette, there's no doubt that they'll have their work cut out for them.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki]

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Internet tool fights censorship by making banned data look 'normal'