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‘They can’t stop us from accessing information’
PAWANPREET KAUR  27th May 2012

he recent court order directing Internet Service Providers (ISP) to block their subscribers from file-sharing websites seems to have had little effect on the regular torrentors. For them, it is business as usual, as they go about circumventing blocks to get an uncensored internet access. As Kumar Saurabh, a Mumbai-based software engineer turned filmmaker puts it, "Every system is exploitable. You just have to find the right keys."

Such blocks, say torrentors, can be overcome by simple innovation. One can start simply with the free proxy servers. These servers help encrypt interaction between a client and a remote server, enabling users to access files anonymously. "So, if a website has been blocked in India, you can download files from the same website through a server based in another country where it is not blocked," says Akash Gupta, an MCA student in Gurgaon. "These cosmetic measures are a joke."

Another option, he points out, is VPNs or Virtual Private Networks, which allow sharing of data behind heavily encrypted firewalls. "These can handle larger encrypted programmes and are the preferred option for programmers," he adds.

While VPNs may cost money, there are solutions that are free, says Gaurav Bansal, a software engineer with a leading IT firm in Bangalore. "There are companies like VPN Reactor that offer a free service limited to around 30 minutes per session. Once the block has been bypassed and users have the torrents in their client, they can turn off the VPN and downloads will complete on their own," he says.

One can also use TOR or The Onion Routing, a free solution that is a great enabler for initial access and downloading. "However, the transfers are quite slow through TOR," says Bansal adding that users can also change their DNS provider (which basically serves as a phone book for the Internet by translating domain names into IP addresses). "By switching to a suitable DNS provider, users can get free access to whatever files they want," he says.

There is no such thing as a good censorship, feels Saurabh, who looks upon the blocks a battle of ideas. "It is not about the money. Why should I or anyone have to pay to access information?" he says. "They can block us but they can't stop us."

 
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