Internews improves activists’ digital and physical security by forcing censoring countries to recalculate the financial and technical burden of restrictive policies and procedures.

By investing in the development and dissemination of cutting-edge, open source privacy, security, and censorship circumvention technologies, we are building an environment in which citizens enjoy greater access to uncensored news and information.

Internews is a leader in the censorship circumvention community

In coordination with members of the digital security community, we have pioneered universally applicable specifications that can be applied to privacy and security tools, like VPNs or encrypted messaging services, in order to bypass censorship. Since 2014, the APT project has supported this set of shared standards and approaches to build a more responsive and resilient tool ecosystem. These tools have enabled users in high risk and closed countries to access information and maintain communication despite repressive governments’ censorship efforts.

Pluggable Transports

Pluggable Transports (PTs) live deep within the code of applications, enabling developers to keep their users connected to content and services when censorship occurs. Different transports work well in different censoring environments, so making them interchangeable means that it is relatively straightforward for the developer to adapt their code quickly and effectively.

The concept of PTs was devised by The Tor Project, leading to an initial specification that developers could use. We have built on this work by convening developers and implementers of circumvention tools to advance the specification so that it could be applied across multiple tools and development platforms. Later iterations of the specification added support for several programming languages, across desktop and mobile platforms. The most recent specification introduced modularity, making it possible for a developer who is only interested in one such platform to advance that part of the spec.

Features of Pluggable Transports

PTs are:

  • Standalone processes that accept traffic from a client and route it to a server;
  • Aimed at obfuscating or hiding traffic so that censors can’t tell what it is;
  • Interchangeable so that when censors learn how to block one PT it can be swapped out with another.

Obfuscation is the hard part, and as long as it’s built using fairly generic interfaces (the way that fteproxy is), it can be reused quite easily across projects, even though their mechanisms for managing and communicating with pluggable transports are different.

Supporting Pluggable Transports Adoption

We have furthered development work on PTs with a series of subgrants for developers to create new transports and implement them for the benefit of their user base.

Developers within the circumvention and Internet Freedom community also created mobile libraries that allow all developers to implement PTs in their Android and iOS apps, paving the way for their use in VPNs, messaging apps and apps displaying news and information.

For more information on PTs, how to build your own PT or adapt an existing system to be a PT, check out our website