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[liberationtech] Appelbaum's Ultrasurf report

x z xhzhang at gmail.com
Wed Apr 18 11:42:15 PDT 2012


Thanks Jacob for your detailed reply. I have some more comments below (the
last two points are more important than the first two).

- Re Ultrasurf's block page featuring advertisement. Yes, from a purist's
point of view, advertisement and money have some intrinsic evilness in it,
but we have to accept it in the real world. The block page attaching a
Google Analytics cookie is not great for privacy or anonymity. Yes I think
they should disclose this, but this deserves a warning, not "condemnation"
as it appears to be.

- The nature of Ultrasurf blocking porn *is* different to government
censorship - the latter is forceful, the former is not, one can easily use
other tools to access porn, people do have choices here.

- You said "*Yes, I find that actually a useful way to test if a tool would
even work at all in China - can users of the tool access sites in China?*"
- I think we should clarify what "work" and "block" means. A user in China
does not need to use Ultrasurf to browse websites hosted inside China, he
uses Ultrasurf to surf the internet outside GFW. The fact that GFW blocks
access *from* Ultrasurf does not indicate that Ultrasurf does not *work*.
Yes, when a Syrian user wants to use Ultrasurf to visit sites hosted in
China, it'll fail, but does it matter?

- The last point is what I want to stress, you stated that "a key idea must
be to think beyond circumvention" at the very end of your long reply to me.
I think this point is the fundamental reason for the tension between you
and Ultrasurf. Security, anonymity and privacy (SAP) are very important, I
agree with it, but I also think that *circumvention in itself* is important
as well. What China (I don't know the other countries) needs most
*is*circumvention, whileas SAP is only icing on the cake. This is why
Ultrasurf
has been so popular and has benefited the world hugely.

Lastly, I must add that your Ultrasurf study and report are very useful and
extremely important in making Ultrasurf more secure and force them to be
more honest in their marketing.

Cheers,

Tom
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