wiki:doc/OONI/CensorshipDetectionTools/alkasir

Alkasir

General Overview

Alkasir is a censorship circumvention tool which also tracks the changes in blocked sites for a location over time.

Implementation overview

Alkasir is a censorship circumvention tool for Windows, using the .NET framework. It is aimed primarily at English and Arabic speaking users. It geolocates the user in order to load the blocked urls list and use that to determine if it needs to use one of the 40 hard-coded proxies. It can be used with the builtin Alkasir browser, which uses the Gecko engine, or configured for use with an existing installation of Firefox, Chrome, or IE. Interestingly enough, the Alkasir HTTP proxies do not allow all censored traffic, but only those sites that it deems appropriate -- in effect, the user is merely trading one censor for another. Additionally, Alkasir only proxies connections to sites that are blocked from the user's location. The blocked urls list is built from crowdsourcing it to the users. I.e. the users report a site as blocked and the alkasir program sends it to !alkasir.com.

Version

1.4

Availability

Publicly available for download, closed source.

Openness

Open Source or Free Software Open Data Open Methodologies
n n n

Is the data required for use public?

Yes.

Is the data collected made public under a free license?

Some data is released, but is not explicitly licensed.

Is the data format that is used for publication easy to interact with?

For browsing, yes. Automated parsing, less so.

Platform support

Alkasir has Windows support only.

Intended impact

This remains unclear. On the one hand, it seems like this tool was created primarily to permit people in information-restricted regions access to news and social sites. On the other hand, the combination of the secrecy, centralization, monitoring, and reporting aspects of Alkasir make it either an ideal honeypot for censoring governments, or a prime target of such entities due to the potential for stored information.

Test methodology

In Alkasir's browser, if a user is denied connection to a site that is known to be online in other geographic regions, the browser opens a proxy through !alkasir.com and connects to the site. The user can report the blocked site, and it is then sent to and stored in the alkasir database for that region. Manual user interaction is required.

Reporting system

Does this tool offer an anonymous communications channel for submission?

No.

If so, does it offer perspective pivoting?

Not applicable.

If so, does it offer dynamic confirmation of resources?

Not applicable.

What impact or outcome is intended by using the tool or collecting data with this tool?

Primary goal is to allow bypassing censorship for informational sites. Data that a user reports is released publicly, although it is given to other users in order to determine if their networks are being censorsored.

Check list

Open Source or Free Software Open Data Open Methodologies Used by users User education Collects sensitive information
n n n approximately 75k, if the sessionID file is as incremental as it appears to be n y
Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Jul 8, 2012, 9:24:35 PM