The Web — and the Internet as a whole — is supposed to be “world wide.” But it’s not when countries censor Internet access. That’s the issue that the online privacy tool Psiphon aims to resolve.
In the Psiphon developers’ own description, the platform “serves a specific and simple purpose: to grant users open access to the Internet when information controls and limitations are arbitrarily imposed within any given country.”
They add, “The Psiphon service strives to be the first recourse against censorship wherever and whenever it occurs.”
To achieve those goals, Psiphon integrates VPN tunneling, SSH encryption and Web proxies into a single package. Together, these services allow users to access content that is blocked in certain countries, while also obfuscating Internet activity so that users’ activities cannot be reliably monitored by governments or other third parties.
Psiphon has existed since 2004 and since 2007 has been developed by the Canadian corporation Psiphon, Inc. Its development has been funded by several government organizations, including the U.S. Department of State and the European Parliament.
Although earlier versions of Psiphon relied on home-based server software, they are no longer supported. The modern version of Psiphon is a cloud-based service.
That may be a downside for some people. It means you have to trust someone else’s cloud with your data, or at least connection logs. On the other hand, the code is open-source, making it difficult for the developers to hide nefarious backdoors in the software.
Perhaps the other downside to Psiphon is that the current version only supports Windows and Android. Mac and Linux users are out of luck, for now. That said, the Android support is notable, given that online privacy tools for mobile platforms tend to be rarer than those for traditional laptops and PCs.