Recently, as most of you have already heard, it is pretty rough being an internaut in Tunisia right now. Internet is being monitored, filtered and blocked, and many protesters are getting arrested or maybe even worse than that.
To keep the flow of information running, and to route around censorship, here are some guidelines on how to set up a mirror of a few videos that the world needs to know about, and especially the people of Tunisia. I did it earlier today, and it took me ten minutes (plus download time).
This is how censorship on the web works: The government finds out about a site, then adds it to a filterlist. (In EU this is a system that Censilia Malmström wants to deploy, but we aren’t there yet).
Now, this is of course very easy to circumvent. You just move the site to a new IP-number or change the URL to it. To be one step ahead of the censors, we use the famous Streisand Effect to work around the problem. The Streisand effect stipulates that the more someone tries to censor content on the internet, the more it is copied. It works for the 2000 Wikileaks mirrors, and it works for almost any project. There are maybe 2 billion computers in the world to choose from, because you can be a mirror too.
Lets do it!
1. First you need an internet connection. A pretty lousy one will actually do, and a home connection is sufficient given that there are lots of them.
2. Second you need a web server. On Linux you have the excellent Apache server, which on Debian/Ubuntu is installed and started up with the command sudo apt-get install apache2. On most Mac OS versions it is already installed, and you activate it in the preferences for network/sharing. On Windows, I am not sure how to do this (please comment!).
3. Forward ports in your home router if you have one. You want port 80 to go to the local IP-number of your web server.
4. Test the web server to see that it functions. First you simply type localhost in your browser, and you should see a page saying ”Apache has been set up successfully” or similar. Then try to access it from the internet, to see if your port forwarding works.
5. Copy the mirror files and unzip them in the directory that Apache points to. On Linux it usually default points to /var/www where you can put the files. On a Mac, it is somewhere in your home folder (if I remember correctly). Please also put the original zip file in the directory, so that others can copy your mirror. Streisand effect is recursive, you know, just like a fractal.
6. Once the files, including the index.html, is in that specific directory, the mirror should work to push traffic on the interwebs. Ask your friends to try it out. If it does not work, consult an Apache manual.
7. Congratulations. You have participated in the machinery of internet politics and contributed to the impossibility of government censorship.