War for the Web
19 04.12

Censoring the Web

So, Iran isn’t going to shut off the entire outside world’s Internet, but they do want to implement a really stringent system of censorship and filtering. They’ve put out an RFI to tech companies all over to help them accomplish their goals.

This brings up a pretty interesting question, one that actually comes up a lot in regards to the Internet and oppressive governments around the world. Iran looks like it’s planning to outsource its censorship efforts. It has not developed the technology internally to accomplish its goals.

So it turns to others. But where does the technology that helps them achieve their goals come from? Well, American and Canadian companies, it turns out. McAfee’s (MFE) SmartFilter technology is used all over the Persian Gulf to help filter content.

An even more troubling example is that Squid, a popular piece of web caching software has been re-purposed by the Syrian government to censor their Internet. Squid was actually funded as part of an open source project by the US government, and published under a GNU license for distribution.

There really isn’t anything illegal about it, but it does pose an interesting quandary. As the American foreign service apparatus focuses on opening the Internet in Iran and throughout the middle east through propaganda and assistance to free speech groups, the US government and American companies have been involved in efforts to restrict access.

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