Help the people in Russia
to access free information
Putins aggressive war is accompanied by massive censorship within Russia. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are already blocked there and other websites are likely to follow. All critical Russian media outlets have been shut down, so foreign website are some of the few ways left for Russians to access independent information, to get organized and to report properly on the situation in Russia. Hence this access is essential for Russian civil society and political opposition to survive.
For a period of time it was possible for people in Russia to use popular tools to circumvent internet censorship. The most common tools are VPNs (virtual private networks) and the anti-censorship software called TorBrowser. Unfortunately, Putin has intensified his censorship efforts so that these tools don't work well anymore. Luckily a new approach is now available that enables people outside of Russia to support Russians trying to access the free internet - risk free and without any technical knowledge. All you need is a web browser.
How to help from outside of Russia
Although Putins censorship system directly blocks Facebook and other websites, it is still possible to access them via an indirect connection. For this to work an intermediate network node is needed to pass on internet traffic and the more of such intermediate stations there are, the harder it is for Russian internet censors to block all of them.
This new approach is called Tor-Snowflake. It is very easy to use and risk free. There are two ways you can participate:
- Install the Snowflake add-on to your browser (for Google Chrome, for Firefox). The add-on takes care of everything in the background.
- You can also open a special website that gives your browser these capabilities. Go to such website and activate the snowflake function there. However, this only works as long as you keep that website open in a tab. This link will take you to such a website.
Access the free internet from inside of Russia
If you are in Russia or in another country that restricts free access to the internet, you can use the TorBrowser to reach out. You can download it here. After downloading make sure to enable "Snowflake": When running Tor Browser for desktop for the first time, you can click on 'Tor Network Settings' on the start-up screen and then select 'Use a bridge'. Click on 'Select a built-in bridge' and choose 'snowflake' from the drop down menu. Once you've selected Snowflake, scroll up and click 'Connect' to save your settings.
TorBrowser is available for all common operating systems. Please be aware that you should be cautious regarding your browsing behavior. Certain behaviors may enable other parties to de-anonomize you. For further information make sure to read the Tor FAQ.
- You want to know more about how the Tor-network works? This video is a good introduction
- You want to know more abour Tor snowflake and the technical details? You can find the technical documentation here
- You are looking for independent media in Russian? Have a look at „Meduza“ - a dual language newspaper that had to leave Russia but continues reporting from Latvia.
- You want to know more about surfing anonymously? Start learning with this series of videos: „series of videos“ by Alexander Lehmann.
- You want to communicate safely and securely? Check out the messengers Signal and Threema - both available for Android and Apple iOS. Do not use Telegram - it is not considered safe and secure and might be dangerous to use in the current situation.
The Forum Computer Scientists for Peace
and Societal Responisbility (FIfF) e. V.
The Forum Computer Scientists for Peace and Societal Responisbility (German: Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung – FIfF) is a Germany-wide association of about 700 individuals who critically examine the effects of using of computers and information technology within the digital society. Our members work predominantly in IT-related professions, from IT systems electronics engineers to professors of theoretical computer science. Since 1984, the FIfF has been working towards a reflected use of information technology for the benefit of society in technical and non-technical areas. We pursue our goals via e. g. public discourse, political consulting or the development of technical studies. In addition, the FIfF publishes the quarterly "FIfF-Kommunikation - Journal for computer science and society" and cooperates with other civil rights organisations and the peace movement. If you want to know more about us, have a look at our introductory brochure) (German only).