Anti-Censorship Tools

I think it would be interesting to have a page describing multiple tools for circumventing Internet censorship. Be that something as simple as a locked down public/work Wifi that blocks VPNs and DoT, or something as severe as a sophisticated national firewall like in China (and increasingly in other authoritarian or pretend-liberal states).

Normal VPN protocols like OpenVPN and Wireguard, as well as known Tor nodes are easily blocked. Currently, the PG website only briefly mentions Snowflake as well as Obfs4proxy, Meek and Shadowsocks without really explaining much.

It would be great to have a separate page listing the various anti-censorship tools, how resilient they are against government actions, which disadvantages they may have (e.g. speed), any potential pitfalls (e.g. DNS or SNI leaks), how to prepare now before your goverment starts to crack down on the free Internet, how to help people in censored countries if you’re not affected yourself, and so on.

So this would have a slightly different focus from privacy (hiding the content but not your identity e.g. through HTTPS and DoH) and anonymity (hiding your identity e.g. through Tor or I2P).


Just some thoughts.
I know very few about it, but AFAIK there are a tremendous amount of documents and guides to tell how you can circumventing China’s national censorship for your devices or even your whole home network written by some Chinese that successfully “going over the wall”, but of course is in Chinese.
Idk if there are documents written in English or other languages.

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Definitely agreed, having resources on censorship circumvention and/or getting tools like VPNs to work despite restrictions can prove as quite the important thing to have.

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While I appreciate the idea, censorship/anti-censorship technologies is a very-very multifaceted, complicated topic, so in case Privacy Guides decides to make a separate section on this — it wouldn’t be of great practical use for people. I’m the one that lives in a totalitarian country, and I can say (from my point of view and considering my circumstances) that if PrivacyGuides makes a page about anti-censorship tools — it won’t be of any use to me. My country uses their specific DPI tools which work in their own way, and all that gets discussed in-depth by technical and knowledgeable users on forums specifically dedicated to that topic. They discuss about how exactly their country’s DPI works, how to circumvent it, etc etc. Similarly, another country (China for example) may use their own DPI tools/censorship technology, which may require other methods of bypassing. This whole censorship topic is a very extensive and broad field, and cannot be catered to everyone. Chinese people already know for a long time how to bypass China’s DPI — PrivacyGuides won’t be of any help to them (moreover: Chinese people will need a guide written in Chinese. A lot of Chinese people don’t know English). There’s already a ton of material on Chinese DPI/(anti-)censorship technologies.

I guess that if PrivacyGuides decides to make a page on anti-censorship technologies, it should be written in an exclusively informative tone, just to inform users about this or that. Something like this:

Look, here are some tools that can be used to circumvent censorship/DPI, these may help you, or they may not, or you can go to rot in jail because TOR is illegal by your country’s jurisdiction, and we recommended you to use TOR in our “anti-censorship guide”! Just be aware of these methods of circumvention we have described and always take into account your specific circumstances; draw conclusions and make decisions based on your own situation.

It shouldn’t be an actual guide, that is: it shouldn’t have any instructions or directions on what to do, because every country is its own case, and PrivacyGuides team can be simply unaware (and it will be unaware, because they don’t experience first-hand the experience of those who are under DPI: they may not know the ins and outs, they may not know the technicalities of this or that country’s censorship system) of what exactly is happening in this or that country and how to circumvent its censorship technologies. PrivacyGuides shouldn’t be giving specific directions regarding bypassing censorship/DPI to people who are in totalitarian countries. Only inform them, and make clear, visible warnings, that the recommendations which PrivacyGuides gives — may endanger lives of some people, depending on the circumstances these people are in.

A useful bit of information I can add from myself, is if one uses a commercial VPN to bypass censorship — it’s very useful to talk with their customer support agents, as they possibly can have additional circumvention measures which they don’t disclose publicly. That’s what I did with Mullvad. I use Mullvad VPN and recently my country started using DPI to block VPN protocols. Mullvad stopped working, it worked only in OpenVPN + bridges mode (but it’s quite slow). I wrote to Mullvad’s customer support asking if they have any methods of bypassing my country’s DPI besides using bridges, and preferably using WireGuard (which is fast). And yes: they did, and they gave me instructions, and the method they provided — works.


A very good point. It should have a disclaimer that legally you circumventing censorship might be a dangerous idea. I think it should mostly be a technical article, like how to circumvent:

  • DNS blocks at ISP level (easy)
  • IP range blocks
  • blocked ports (e.g. for DNS-over-TLS)
  • OpenVPN / Wireguard / IPsec is blocked
  • Tor nodes are blocked
  • HTTPS certificates are MITM’d
  • government does deep packet inspection
    and so on.

The aim would be to enable people to get ready before it happens.


Actually just this morning, Reclaim the Net posted an article on circumventing censorship: Tools And Techniques To Circumvent Online Censorship (click here for pastebin without paywall)

Not technical enough for my liking though. The tools mentioned are VPNs, Tor, Lokinet, Private DNS, DNScrypt, Lantern, and Shadowsocks.

Very recently something has gone very bad with Lantern.
It started to include a sh**tload of trackers.
Don’t use Lantern!

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