Authorities in China don’t like its citizens vaulting over the Great Firewall, bypassing its behemoth machine of online censorship. That’s why the Great Firewall has infiltrated and managed to block Lantern, a free peer-to-peer censorship circumvention tool.
Yesterday, lots of users of Lantern in China began posting to social media about how it was no longer working as a proxy web connection for them. Today, the Lantern team confirmed:
As many of you know, Lantern fallback servers have been blocked by the Great Firewall in China. For more information: http://t.co/vdAgwjXxZx
— getlantern.org (@getlantern) December 11, 2013
The getlantern.org homepage for the software is also blocked in China.
The Lantern team explained in a blog post how the infiltration into this invitation-only free service happened:
The way we have allowed users to request invites meant that anyone could sign up, including the censors. If you happened to sign up at the same time as a censor, you would be sharing the same fallback proxy, which the censor would end up blocking. This means that all other users who signed up at that same time would also get blocked.
But the team is fighting back:
We initially wanted to give easy access to everyone interested in trying the program, but we are adjusting the invitation process now that there is a larger user base. In the future, to get access you’ll need to get invited by an existing Lantern user with access – a user with a fully working version of Lantern. We now need to focus on growing the trust network organically to stay unblocked. You can help by adding only your trusted contacts in censored and uncensored regions. This is how we will gradually grow a stronger network.
So, in theory, Lantern can unblock itself with new servers, a software update, and by better screening of the users it accepts.
The software is financed through US Department of State seed funding and is aimed at helping web users in censorious countries, especially in China and across the Middle East. The service supports Chinese, Arabic, and several other languages.
(See also: Here’s a list of websites blocked in China)
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)