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Telex
August 7, 2011 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Telex is an interesting proxy-less anti-censorship system designed to combat state-level censorship (pdf). But would it cost too much? Should we really trust "good" state-level actors with our anti-censorship efforts? And might it divert resources from established anonymity projects, like Tor, I2I, Freenet, etc.
posted by jeffburdges (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note to innovators: please don't reuse terminology confusingly within recent memory.
posted by scruss at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


The main idea behind Telex is to place anticensorship technology into the Internet's core network infrastructure

:D

...through cooperation from large ISPs.

:|
posted by Taft at 11:37 AM on August 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


Does the protocol have a "I am not a child predator" bit?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:12 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(that is, good luck finding a government that won't find a reason to log everyone's traffic on this thing)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Telex is an interesting proxy-less anti-censorship system designed to combat state-level censorship

Really? I thought telex was a switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network, for the purposes of sending text based messages.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:39 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Telex is an interesting proxy-less anti-censorship system designed to combat state-level censorship

Really? I thought telex was a switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network, for the purposes of sending text based messages.


Telex presents Euro-Vision (via satellite, and without state-level censorship).
posted by iviken at 2:54 PM on August 7, 2011


RobotVoodooPower: the link says it's supposed to complement things like Tor, so in theory you could use it to make connections to Tor look like innocent, non-blocked HTTPS traffic. Then you'd have whatever anonymity Tor gives you, and people wouldn't even be able to tell you're connecting to Tor (except for the ISP who implements Telex, who would only be able to tell that you are and not what you're doing).
posted by vogon_poet at 2:57 PM on August 7, 2011


And Haselton gets his "hundreds of millions of dollars" figure from where, exactly?
posted by grimmelm at 3:01 PM on August 7, 2011


And to think that my first thought was that "good state-level actors" was cute.
posted by nevercalm at 3:01 PM on August 7, 2011


It's an interesting idea, but how do I, as an end user, ensure that my traffic takes a route that passes by a Telex station?

It's not like a regular proxy where I can just connect to it by IP address (and that's sort of the point of the whole design), so there would have to be a lot of these distributed around the Internet to have a reasonable chance of passing by one on the way to any arbitrary secure web site.

If there aren't a lot of these, then there may be a small list of sites I can connect to that will guarantee success... in which case blocking access to all those sites might still be feasible. Or traffic engineering to cause connections to go via routes or ISPs known to be clear of Telex stations.

It just seems like it won't solve the problem unless it's very widely deployed. Which presents a bit of a problem: if it's hard to use successfully and easily defeated when deployed at a small scale, no one will use it, so how does it get to large-scale deployment from there?
posted by FishBike at 3:39 PM on August 7, 2011


Hmm, interesting. So I assume to prevent rogue Telex stations from being setup at ISPs by state censors and intelligence services there is an entire public key infrastructure with signing authorities and root level certificates? Otherwise as RobotVoodooPower points out, we've got the same problem as before.
posted by formless at 4:01 PM on August 7, 2011


The entry in their FAQ about that is not encouraging, formless. It boils down to "we'll be really careful about who we give the private key to."
posted by FishBike at 4:04 PM on August 7, 2011


I'd assume they claim your telex connection should only be identifiable by an ISP holding the private key for the ISP public key you used. You must therefore first find some shttp supporting website that'll traceroutes through an ISP whom you trust, then locate that ISP's public key, and finally initialize your telex connection using that ISPs private key.

As evil states might finagle their routing tables, you might be forced to select websites in small countries who's ISPs all participate. And your government might not like shttp connections too much anyways. You must also ask yourself whether you mind your connection being singled out by western intelligence services, who'll surely get every participating ISP's key.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:12 PM on August 7, 2011


That system sounds completely ridiculous. Centrally controlled anti-censorship? Seriously? The idea is absurd.

Another problem is the Man in the Middle attack actually works if you're a government. You control the routers out of the country, so you can intercept and proxy https connections. Once that happens you're likely to have the extra information stripped out.

Tor has problems as well, because the government could try to control all the exit nodes available to you.

One interesting method might be to use the bitcoin network as a way to send messages. Essentially the bitcoin p2p network operates as a giant verification system. As long as someone's bitcoin address doesn't change, you should be able to send a 'custom' transaction that includes a message encrypted with their public key.
posted by delmoi at 3:47 AM on August 8, 2011


I'd imagine bitcoin transactions are too small for anything except emails, but ordinary web traffic gets fairly large anyways. Audio & video chat and bittorrent connections might work though. You'd simply find some guy running bittorrent or a chat client that's on some small & trust worthy ISP that offers Telex.

There is considerable value in a general stenography scheme that uses public key systems to make the hidden data efficiently undetectable except by the private key holder, assuming that's both possible and what they're doing. You might even develop a system that adds resistance to man-in-the-middle attacks by making the man-in-the-middle unsure whether he's nailed you or not.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:00 AM on August 8, 2011


Turkey moving to IP based censorship
posted by jeffburdges at 2:35 PM on August 8, 2011


There is considerable value in a general stenography scheme that uses public key systems to make the hidden data efficiently undetectable except by the private key holder

It's actually called steganography
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on August 8, 2011


There are several interesting papers that show up in a google search for 'public key steganography'. If you add 'telex', you'll find different news articles and Schneier's opinion.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:41 PM on August 8, 2011


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