Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 Anonymous communication systems (ACS) are designed to ensure the privacy of the Internet user by masking the identity of the requesting user from the content provider. For an added layer of privacy, advanced ACS employs a variety of random routing pathways to ensure that the user’s identity is even hidden from the system itself. The circumvention of Internet filters comes mostly as a side effect of such anonymous communication systems, since the same technique of being stealthy online also happens to allow Internet traffic to sneak through Internet filters most of the time. As such, anonymous communication systems have become a popular means of circumvention, where several ACS networks are available for use by any Chinese Internet user, who also stands to benefit from the system’s anonymity feature.

Comment Icon0 Anonymous communication systems suffer from the same issues faced by users of alternative circumvention techniques, such as the ability to install and run such software on their own personal computers, rather than public terminals. Also, given the nature of how anonymous network routing works, users would also tend to experience a slower network connection speeds. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities might have already blocked popular ACS, typically by blocking access to known peers on such anonymous networks. In more sneaky situations and according to the type of ACS used, the filtering authorities might even operate an anonymous node on their own in order to monitor user traffic. In more restrictive environments, using ACS might also trigger the attention of authorities to end-users (Haselton, 2002). Some of the popular Anonymous Communication Systems are shown in Table 8.

TOR (The Onion Router)

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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.

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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 intermediaries, so-called mixes.

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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.

Comment Icon0 Table 8: List of anonymous communication systems (Haselton, 2002)

Chapter 7.3.6 – Anonymous Communication Systems


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