Open-Source Project Streisand Aims to Make Web Servers Immune to Censorship

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A new open-source project called Streisand is designed to make it easy to setup a new server running a wide variety of anti-censorship technologies that can completely mask and encrypt all Internet traffic, and essentially circumvent most forms of online censorship.

Streisand automates process of setting up a secure, self-contained VPN server, which takes around 10 minutes. Those visiting the web server are provided instructions for securely connecting to the server. The IP addresses of connecting clients are never logged so there’s nothing for authorities to find if a server gets seized or shut down.

Streisand runs on BSD, Linux, or OS X operating systems, and natively supports the creation of new servers at Amazon EC2, DigitalOcean, Linode, and Rackspace, as well as any Debian 7 server regardless of the provider.

Streisand takes its name from the ”Streisand Effect”, which means an incident where attempting to control or suppress information draws attention to it rather than away from it. It’s named after singer Barbra Streisand who drew unwanted attention to her Malibu mansion in 2003 when she attempted to suppress photographs of it.

The developer behind the project, Joshua Lund, wrote in a Twitter post that he had been working on Streisand for four months before making the repository public on Github.

In a blog post, Lund noted that he was inspired to start the project when when Turkey started blocking Twitter in March, and Turks scrawled alternative DNS server IPs in the streets.

While this was clever and illustrated the Turkish peoples’ resilience, it also showed how easy it is for ISPs, telecoms, politicians, and corporations to block access to sites and information, but also how difficult it is for web servers to circumvent censorship.

“It is my sincere hope that it will help shift the balance of power back towards the people, where it belongs,” Lund wrote. “As censorship attempts increase, more and more VPN servers will spring up–and now that process is significantly easier.”

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  1. Open source communities and solutions offer the most effective way to combat growing intrusions by government and big business on personal privacy, tracking personal behavior, etc.