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[liberationtech] on the traceability of circumvention tools

Mehdi Yahyanejad yahyanejad at
Thu Sep 16 20:23:32 PDT 2010

I also believe that it is better for all these circumvention tools projects to stay away from 
the opposition groups or the US government. However, the reality is that being associated with the
opposition groups or the US government is often the norm more than not in the circumvention tools 
industry. Almost all the main projects whether they want to admit or not are US government funded. 

For example, Ultrasurf, the most successful circumvention tool of all time, is 
created by a Chinese opposition group. Another product of the same group, FreeGate, is 
distributed in Iran exclusively by Voice of America and Radio Farda (Persian version of Radio
Liberty Europe). Each time, state-owned newspaper Kayhan, talks about Radio Farda 
adds the prefix of "an official wing of CIA". 
I haven't seen any hesitations by Iranians to use the circumvention tool which is distributed 
by "an official wing of CIA". 
As I mentioned yesterday, Tor still prides itself for being the tools of choice for the US Navy 
intelligence and has been originally sponsored by the US Navy. Tor simply doesn't have 
much traction in Iran, so we don't have to be worried about its associations. 

> Evgeny Morozov evgeny.morozov at 
> Wed Sep 15 21:54:28 PDT 2010
> I'm no expert on Iranian politics but as a partial response to Mehdi - and
> as a partial defense of my own concerns about the security of Haystack's
> testers, I'll paste the following article from BBC Monitoring below.
> It was originally published in the Iranian state-owned newspaper Iran in May
> 2010. To me, this article suggests that Haystack testers/users were seen by
> the state as "agents of the US" and may have been at higher risks than those
> who were using, say, Ultrasurf...This brings me to my favorite subject: how
> the US government indirectly contributed to all this mess. If anything, it's
> the US government's highly-publicized involvement that risks putting
> everyone using circumvention tools in Iran at risk.
> ---
> Iran newspaper, Tehran, in Persian, 10 May 10, p 3/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC
> Text of short news report under "What Else is News" column headlined
> "Attempt to offer superior anti-Iranian software to opposition" published by
> Iranian newspaper Iran on 10 May
> According to reports, the American "Censorship Research Centre" supported by
> US government and under direct supervision of Hillary Clinton, the US
> secretary of state, has planned to ask the Iranian opposition to send
> information to the centre in which US is interested. The information should
> be sent through a specific web software.
> Earlier, a British state-owned media had informed about the distribution of
> powerful filter-breaker internet software. It was programmed by an American
> company for Iranian opposition inside the country. It is interesting to note
> that two Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic in America are assisting
> the Censorship Research Centre in programming the software.
> Abbas Milani and Karim Sajjadpur, advisers of Austin Hype [as published],
> have offered their knowledge to design this anti-Iranian software to the
> American government. In addition to the Iranian assistants, the Censorship
> Research Centre has also established connection with some anti-state
> elements and the so-called Green Movement inside. The centre has asked for
> their opinion and the requirements to accomplish the work on Haystack
> [anti-filter software] and its technical aspects. The software is being
> programmed in the situation when recently two Republican senators - John
> Cornyn and Sam Brownback [names as published] - in a draft sent to the
> American Senate requested for the government's financial and technical
> support to change the Iranian political system.
> Credit: Iran newspaper, Tehran, in Persian, 10 May 10, p 3

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