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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Peeking about

Readers concerned with Big Brother’s intrusive gaze or those who simply desire a little more privacy while surfing may find a recent article in the International Herald Tribune of great interest. Not to be confused with the game sometimes played at Blogger Bash parties, Peek-a-booty is a variation on the file-sharing peer-to-peer (P2P) networks popularized by Napster and kazaa. Instead of swapping music files, however, Peek-a-booty uses its P2P network to swap restricted web pages in encrypted format around firewalls.

The site has been in the works for quite a while, but a refined version has only recently become available. The idea is to give those with oppressive governments (i.e. China, North Korea, Britain) a means to view those web pages the state has placed off limits. If you happen to live in one of those more actively repressive places you better check out this article before joining the peek-a-booty network.

One other caveat: at last report, Peek-a-booty had not turned on the encryption bit so discretion is still advised.

Other censorship evading sites exist. SafeWeb and one of their products Triangle Boy are the most famous. So famous, in fact, that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) apparently already has some hooks into them. Rumor has it (surprise, surprise) the CIA is also interested in Peek-a-booty. The spooks will find it more difficult to wield economic influence this time since the booty code was not created by a single private firm but by the hacker group the Cult of the Dead Cow. Instead, the CIA would appear to have some kind of blocking method up its electronic sleeve.

Stay tuned.

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