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[liberationtech] Users flock to Japan student's firewall-busting thesis project - Network World

Robert Guerra rguerra at privaterra.org
Fri Mar 15 05:40:27 PDT 2013


A hosted tool provides a service, but also point of possible data capture & analysis.

Has anyone looked through the details to see what the student is doing with the log data ? Could be a great tool, or a great opt-in surveillance tool...

Robert

--
R. Guerra
Phone/Cell: +1 202-905-2081
Twitter: twitter.com/netfreedom 
Email: rguerra at privaterra.org

On 2013-03-14, at 5:27 PM, Yosem Companys wrote:

> This story appeared on Network World at
> https://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/031313-users-flock-to-japan-student39s-267650.html
> 
> Users flock to Japan student's firewall-busting thesis project
> 'VPN Gate,' designed by Ph.D. student Daiyuu Nobori to circumvent
> government firewalls, has drawn 77,000 users in less than a week
> 
> By Jay Alabaster, IDG News Service
> March 13, 2013 07:05 AM ET
> 
> IDG News Service - If you're not sure about the purpose behind Daiyuu
> Nobori's online thesis project, perhaps the large picture of the
> collapse of the Berlin Wall will help.
> 
> Nobori created VPN Gate to help individuals in countries that restrict
> Internet use to beat government firewalls. The service encourages
> members of the public to set up VPN (virtual private network) servers
> and offer free connections to individual users, aiming to make the
> technology more accessible.
> 
> "Today's VPN software is very complex. They are not easy to use. Some
> VPN services around the world are expensive for people in other parts
> of the world," Nobori said in an interview with IDG News Service.
> 
> His service maintains a public, real-time list of freely available VPN
> servers for users to choose from. It also offers downloadable server
> software to run the VPN, and a client that greatly simplifies the
> process of finding and connecting to one of the free servers, for the
> less technically inclined.
> 
> The 28 year-old doctoral student at Tsukuba University, about 30 miles
> northeast of Tokyo, wasn't sure what the reaction would be when he
> launched last Friday. He did little to advertise it outside of the
> home page and a few mentions on tech forums.
> 
> Five days later, the service has drawn 77,000 users and served nearly
> 4 terabytes of data.
> 
> "There are a lot of users from around the world, so I'm very happy,"
> he said, but "the large amount of data transfer charges are a problem.
> This is coming from my credit card."
> 
> Nobori had originally planned to host the service on his university's
> servers, but they have been down recently so he switched it to the
> Windows Azure cloud platform. He has spent about US$9,000 keeping it
> up so far, and will move it back to the university as soon as he can.
> He also operates his own VPN company, income from which has helped
> with expenses.
> 
> The service is based on "SoftEther," open-source VPN software he
> built. He says most of it will be released as open source in the next
> few months. He said he plans to keep certain small portions related to
> custom protocols private, for security reasons.
> 
> He was motivated to create VPN Gate when he learned about the
> firewalls imposed on people living in Middle East countries such as
> Egypt and Libya. The Web page is currently offered in English, Chinese
> and his native Japanese, but he says that is more based on the number
> of language speakers worldwide than any political feelings about a
> particular country.
> 
> "I'm an engineer, I don't have any interest in politics," he said. "If
> people somewhere want to study and can't use services like Wikipedia
> or Google, this is a big problem. Wikipedia has political articles,
> but also articles about science and other topics."
> 
> The service's public access logs show that the vast majority of
> connections are coming from China. He had friends at his university
> help him translate his materials into Chinese, but they asked that he
> not credit them by name for fear of repercussions.
> 
> Nobori said that while few people in countries like Japan feel
> threatened by government firewalls, he remains concerned. In Japan,
> police have publicized a plan to block access to a genre of sites that
> give advice on how to kill yourself, to cut down on the country's high
> suicide rate.
> 
> "It is probably acceptable to block the suicide sites, but you don't
> know what happens next. There is always a chance it will expand."
> 
> The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.
> 
> All contents copyright 1995-2013 Network World, Inc. http://www.networkworld.com
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