Psiphon is an open-source, free program for getting around Internet restrictions that combines obfuscation and secure communication technologies like Web proxy, SSH, and VPN. Thousands of proxy servers make up Psiphon, a geographically diversified and centrally managed network that uses a single-hop and multi-hop routing design focused on performance.
Users in nations seen to be “enemies of the Internet” are the target audience for Psiphon. The codebase is created and maintained by Psiphon, Inc., a company that runs technologies and systems meant to help people safely get around content-filtering systems that governments use to restrict the Internet.
The University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab created the initial Psiphon (1.0) concept, expanding on earlier iterations of online proxy software systems, including the “Safe Web” and “Anonymizer” systems.
Psiphon, Inc. is an autonomous Ontario corporation founded in 2007 that creates cutting-edge technology and systems for circumventing censorship. Through the Psi-Lab relationship, Psiphon, Inc. and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, occasionally work together on research initiatives. At the moment, Psiphon is made up of three independent yet connected open-source software projects:
1.0: The first version of the home-based server program, which was rebuilt and introduced in 2006 after being released by Citizen Lab in 2004. Both Psiphon, Inc. and the Citizen Lab have discontinued support for Psiphon 1. X.
2.0: A safe proxy system that runs on the cloud.
3.0: A run-time tunneling system that runs in the cloud.
How does Psiphon get through censorship or blocks?
Psiphon’s original idea was to create a lightweight, user-friendly Internet proxy that could be set up and run by individual computer users. These people could then host private connections for friends and family in nations where the Internet is restricted. Nart Villeneuve states, “The idea is to get users to install this on their computer and then use the most secure method to deliver the location of that circumventor to people in filtered countries.” Rather than creating a vast tech network that everyone can access, what we’re attempting to create is a network of trust among individuals who are acquainted.”On December 1, 2006, the Citizen Lab released Psiphon 1.0 as open-source software.
Psiphon, Inc. was founded at the beginning of 2007 as a Canadian company that is separate from both the University of Toronto and the Citizen Lab. The GNU General Public Licence was used to make the original code (1.6) available. The French Senate gave Psiphon the Netexplorateur award in 2008. Psiphon received The Economist Best New Media Award in 2009 from the Index on Censorship. Psiphon, Inc. and the Citizen Lab ceased to provide active support for Psiphon 1—x in 2011, marking its official retirement.
2008 saw Psiphon, Inc. receive two sub-grants from the SESAWE (Open Internet) project(s) run by Internews. The Internet Freedom program of the US State Department, which is run by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour (DRL), provided financing, along with support from the European Parliament. Developing Psiphon into a scalable anti-censorship tool that can serve a large number of users in many geographical locations was the goal of this funding. A number of seasoned security and encryption software engineers who had previously worked on the creation of Ciphershare, a secure document management system, joined the core development team.
The US Department of State, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (US) started receiving services from Psiphon, Inc. in 2010. Psiphon, Inc. was a business that relied on revenue from commercial operations as of 2015.
Psiphon communication was crucial to media coverage of the 2020 protests in Belarus.
Psiphon, Inc. started working on a mobile version of Psiphon 3 in 2012 for Android-powered phones.
The demonstrations in Myanmar in 2021 caused the monthly user base to jump from 5,000 to over 14 million. The cause is believed to be the state’s suppression of numerous other social media platforms. Following the government’s closure of most social media platforms, more than a million demonstrators in Cuba started using the tool during the 2021 protests.