Program Seeks to Beat Web Censorship

ATLANTA, Aug. 10 (UPI) — People in countries censoring foreign Web sites can download stories from blocked sites without risking official scrutiny, developers of a new system say.

In the system called Collage, users in those countries could download material from censored sites while visiting seeming uncontroversial and unblocked photo hosting sites such as Flickr, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.


Using a technique called digital steganography, an image file is modified to encode the hidden data without affecting the appearance of the image.

Collage is designed so that anti-censorship activists and readers can publish and download the hidden stories without any specialist skills.

Anyone with Collage can download the material embedded in a Flickr image and extract the stories.

A censor trying to monitor traffic from a prohibited site would only see the user visiting Flickr, a site not usually blocked by Web censors.

The system’s developers are relying on opposition to censorship to motivate people to use Collage.

“We’re betting on people getting a warm fuzzy feeling because they are beating censorship,” says Sam Burnett at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, part of the team behind Collage.

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