Censorship in the UK, first of torrent sites, then of proxy sites that allow users to evade the blocks on torrent sites, and now Prime Minister David Cameron’s new ‘on by default’ porn filter (which as we explain here will likely block much more than porn), has prompted the internet freedom activist group behind Torrenticity to develop a new service that allows internet users to access blocked websites (including proxies of blocked websites).
The service, called Immunicity, is free to use, requires no registration, and does not need any software to be downloaded and installed. All it requires is changing some settings in your favorite browser to be able to access blocked site.
At the moment only torrent sites are unblocked, but Immunicity has told TorrentFreak that it intends to add unblocking of porn sites as well. The way the system works means end-users will not have to update their configurations, as new unblock sites will be added seamlessly and ‘behind the scenes’, so users can just carry on as before. Immunicity also explained that it intends to set up multiple configurations (such as ‘all’, ‘torrent sites’, ‘porn’ etc.) so users can choose what they want to be unblocked. A full list of currently unblocked sites is available here.
‘We are angered by the censorship that is happening in the UK and in other countries across the globe, so we got our thinking caps on and decided to do something about it’ said Immunicity, and pointed out that their service will be useful to users anywhere in the world who are faced with censorship issues.
Each browser needs to be configured somewhat differently, and full instructions for doing so can be found here. We decided to have quick look at the setup process using Firefox and Chrome in Windows, to see how easy and effective it is.
1. Go to Firefox tab -> Options -> Options
2. Go to ‘Advanced’ tab -> Network -> Connection (Configure how Firefox connects to the internet) -> settings
3. Check the ‘Automatic proxy configuration URL’ radio button, and past in the following:
Click OK and OK again.
4. Check everything is working by going to http://check.immunicity.org/.
As we are based in the UK, we also checked that Immunicity worked by turning off our VPN connection and visiting The Pirate Bay website (blocked in the UK).
1. Click on the menu button to the right of the URL bar and select ‘Settings’.
2. At the bottom of the screen click on ‘Show advanced settings’.
3. Scroll down to ‘Network’ and click ‘Change Proxy Settings’
4. At the bottom of the Window, click ‘LAN settings’
5. Tick the ‘Use automatic configuration script’ box and past the following into the address bar:
Click OK, OK and exit Settings.
6. You can check that everything is working in exactly the same way as step 4 of ‘Configuring Firefox’. We got the same perfect results.
Immunicity is a great way to circumvent internet filtering, is free (unlike VPN) and fast (unlike Tor), but remember that it does not hide your internet activity from your ISP (and therefore also copyright enforcement bodies) in the way VPN and Tor do. Still, the more tools available for bypassing censorship the better, and used carefully this should be great addition to the ant-censorship armory.