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psiphon2


What is psiphon?
Who owns psiphon?
Why is psiphon free?
What makes psiphon2 special?
How can I get access to psiphon2?
What do I do with a psiphon2 invitation?
Why do I have to give an e-mail address to register?
How do I use psiphon?
Is psiphon2 Mac- and/or Linux-compatible?
With what browsers is psiphon2 compatible?
How do my friends get psiphon2 access?
Does psiphon2 pass all content?
What should I use psiphon2 for?
Are there any disadvantages to using psiphon?
Has psiphon2 ever been blocked?
How secure is psiphon2?
What’s with the "bad certificate" error every time I log in to psiphon2?
Can my ISP or international internet gateway see that I’m circumventing?
Is using psiphon2 dangerous?
What if I have a problem or a question?


What is psiphon?

Psiphon is a free authenticated browser proxy. It’s a proxy because it enables users behind firewalls to see otherwise-blocked content by getting web pages for them through an intermediate server in an uncensored country. It’s a browser proxy because it operates by asking a user to enter in a URL in a web browser (as opposed to downloading and installing something). And it’s authenticated because all psiphon nodes require login prior to providing circumvention service, so users must first get credentials from the node owner (just once). psiphon1 is personal proxy server software which can be downloaded and installed on always-on home broadband-connected Windows PCs and then shared for use by the owner’s acquaintances. psiphon2 is a system of centrally-established and -managed proxy servers.
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Who owns psiphon?

Psiphon is the property of a Canadian company jointly owned by three Canadians and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Labs. Psiphon, Inc. develops, owns, and runs the psiphon system, and is affiliated with the OpenNet Initiative, which in turn is affiliated with Harvard’s Berkman Center.
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Why is psiphon free?

Development of the psiphon software, and operation of the psiphon system, has been and continues to be financed by a number of development donors, including OSI and the governments of the US, Canada, UK, and Netherlands. These donors believe freedom of (access to, and distribution of) information is an essential right of everyone; they thus support efforts to (inter alia) help netizens in censored countries have unfettered access to internet content.
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What makes psiphon2 special?

Functionally, the service which psiphon2 provides users is similar to what the numerous other free proxy servers offer, except that:

  1. psiphon2 doesn’t need to deliver advertising;
  2. psiphon2 server addresses are not published and thus it is difficult for agencies responsible for censoring internet access to identify and prevent access to them;
  3. a netizen must be invited to register for psiphon2 use by another psiphon2 user;
  4. psiphon2 servers are highly managed, preventing overload (and thus maximizing speed for psiphon2 users); and
  5. psiphon2 servers are self-healing, so if a psiphon2 server is blocked by censorship authorities, that server’s users are given a new server.

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How can I get access to psiphon2?

Send an e-mailed request to english@sesawe.net, saying "can I have psiphon2 access" and telling us your country of origin. You will receive an e-mail with a psiphon2 invitation in it.
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What do I do with a psiphon2 invitation?

A psiphon2 invitation is an internet address and an invitation code, usually combined together into one click-able URL. When you have received a psiphon2 invitation from Sesawe or from an acquaintance, do this to "use" your invitation to register for your psiphon2 account (each invitation is unique and can only be used once):

  1. make sure you’re online, since the registration process is "live" over the internet,
  2. click on the invitation URL to access (through your browser) the psiphon2 registration server,
  3. select your desired psiphon2 interface language,
  4. provide a nickname (this can be anything),
  5. provide your e-mail address (a real, working e-mail address),
  6. make up your own password and enter it twice,
  7. click on login,
  8. memorize or write down the resulting psiphon2 server URL in your browser’s address bar (mostly numbers, e.g. https://1.2.3.4); this is what you must enter into any browser (home, work, internet café, etc.) to use psiphon2, and
  9. use psiphon2 to browse freely!
  10. When you’re done, close your browser so a malicious user can’t find out your node URL and have it blocked by the censorship authorities.

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Why do I have to give an e-mail address to register?

If your psiphon2 server is blocked, a new psiphon2 address will be automatically e-mailed to you within a couple days.
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How do I use psiphon?

Note the blue bar at the top of your browser window (below your browser menu, address bar, and toolbars). Enter in the URL of the internet resource you wish to see, and hit enter. Your browser will ask your psiphon2 node to get you the content you request. At the far right of your blue bar, there are arrows you can use to locate the blue bar at either the top or bottom of your browser window. If you want to change any options (like your interface language, your e-mail address, or your password), click on profile and then, when you’re done, click on browse to get back to the blue bar.
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Is psiphon2 Mac- and/or Linux-compatible?

Yes; psiphon2 will work on any operating system.
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With what browsers is psiphon2 compatible?

Psiphon2 has been tested with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It should be compatible with all browsers.
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How do my friends get psiphon2 access?

Don’t share your psiphon2 login information (your psiphon2 server URL and your password) with anyone. Suggest friends write to english@sesawe.net to request an invitation. If you want to become a "power user" (with the ability to issue psiphon2 invitations yourself), e-mail english@sesawe.net with your request. If you are a power user already, you will see invite a user and send invitations within the profile menu. The former generates invitation URLs which you can e-mail to friends; the latter e-mails invitation URLs, itself (without identifying you), to the e-mail addresses you provide.
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Does psiphon2 pass all content?

Psiphon2 handles almost all browser content, including Flash, HTTPS, right-to-left text, non-Latin-character code pages, streaming media, and most scripts (Java, Active-X). If any element of a web page fails to show correctly, click on the broken page link in the blue bar, type in a short description of what was shown imperfectly, and hit submit so the psiphon2 development staff can fix the problem.
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What should I use psiphon2 for?

Psiphon2 is provided to enable censored netizens to access otherwise-blocked internet resources. It can be used simply for accessing filtered content; it can also be used to enhance privacy—for instance, when posting content (e.g. to your blog)—because all communication between you and the psiphon2 servers is encrypted.
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Are there any disadvantages to using psiphon?

Use of any proxy server, including psiphon2, slows down retrieval of internet content through your browser (so you may not want to use a proxy server for accessing unblocked content); how much slower proxy server use is compared to non-proxied internet use depends on your preexisting internet access speed—the slower your direct access is, the less a proxy server affects your speed. Also, psiphon2 is a browser proxy, so it won’t proxy internet applications other than your browser (such as an instant messaging client, ftp, or a mail program like Outlook); for those heavier-duty needs, use a download-and-install client like Tor, Freegate, Your Freedom, or UltraSurf.
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Has psiphon2 ever been blocked?

No. There are currently 25 test servers in operation; this number will be scaled up, as necessary, into the thousands.
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How secure is psiphon2?

Psiphon2 server addresses are not public, so there’s no obvious way your ISP or government can know that when you’re using psiphon2, you’re circumventing censorship; psiphon2 internet traffic looks like any other traffic. Psiphon2 uses HTTPS, which means all traffic between your browser and the psiphon2 server is encrypted using SSL, which is considered safe from prying eyes (of your ISP, of your government, of hackers). As with any proxy server, psiphon2’s owner could track what content you access, but it doesn’t; the psiphon2 system only records (for research purposes) what “all users of the psiphon2 servers” accessed, not who accessed what, and the system doesn’t actually look at any of the content (e.g. webmail, bank account access, etc.). Sesawe will never disclose the e-mail addresses of psiphon2 users to third parties except if required under Canadian law (for instance, if someone uses psiphon2 to break the law, e.g. the production or distribution of child pornography, online fraud, etc.).
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What’s with the "bad certificate" error every time I log in to psiphon2?

Psiphon2 uses SSL certificates to encrypt communications between you and psiphon2 servers. The SSL certificates are self-signed, which means psiphon2 didn’t pay a certifying authority to authenticate them. They are, nonetheless, safe to use, so you can simply click "okay" or "proceed" in your browser.
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Can my ISP or international internet gateway see that I’m circumventing?

Probably not. Psiphon traffic carries no “signature” which would enable filters to identify it as anything other than normal encrypted traffic like what’s is generated by any e-commerce site. If the authorities have identified psiphon2’s servers, then they could notice who’s trying to connect to those servers, but prior experience shows that when censors do identify proxy servers, they block them (rather than track their use). Since literally millions of people circumvent censorship, governments seem to realize that tracking down individual users is realistically impossible.
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Is using psiphon2 dangerous?

As far as is known to Sesawe, circumvention per se is not illegal anywhere in the world, and no netizen has ever been punished for using circumvention technology (proxies)—whether psiphon or any other. After all, use of circumvention tools can be legitimately justified as a step internet users take to preserve privacy (e.g. against hackers). However:

  1. most countries define as illegal the possession or consumption of certain kinds of content (e.g. that which is inconsistent with government-approved religious or cultural norms);
  2. governments which try to prevent their citizens from exercising freedom of access to information and freedom of expression have been known to punish people who they can identify as having posted online content critical of the authorities, so if you do post critical content, use an encrypted proxy like psiphon2, and you may want to avoid putting online information which can be used to trace your posting to you;
  3. if your contract with your ISP explicitly prohibits circumvention, your provider could terminate your internet service if you’re caught using psiphon (although as far as is known, this has never happened); and
  4. authoritarian governments are not known for their adherence to the rule of law, so if they want to get you (for whatever reason), they can always use some vague clause like “threatening national security.”

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What if I have a problem or a question?

Pose your question through the support form in the Support and FAQs section and Sesawe will respond.
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