Brad Tempelton explains why a censor should want an imperfect filter — it should be good enough to keep verboten information from most users, but easy enough to circumvent to tempt dissidents, so they can be tracked and when desired, put away.
In the second half of the post, Tempelton suggests some anti-censor techniques: ubiquitous SSL and steganography. Fortunately he says these are “far off” and “does not scale”, respectively. To say the least, I’d add.
Cyber-activists have long dreamed that strong encryption would thwart censorship. Freenet is an example of a project that uses this as its raison d’être. While I’m a huge fan of ubiquitous encryption and decentralization (please install OTR, now!), these seem like terribly roundabout, demand-side means of fighting censorship — the price of obtaining information, which includes the chance of being caught, is lowered. But someone has to seek out or have the information pushed to them in the first place. If information is only available via hidden channels, how many people will encounter it regardless of lower risk?
An alternative, perhaps less sexy because it involves no technology adoption, is supply-side anti-censorship: make verboten information ubiquitous. Anyone upset about google.cn should publish information the Communist Party wants censored (my example is pathetic, need to work on that). This is of course not mutually exclusive with continuing to carp and dream of techno-liberation.
I guess I’m calling for Spread Free Speech projects. Or one of those chain letters (e.g, “four things”) that plagues the blogosphere.