Alex Halderman, University of Michigan computer security professor and my best friend from childhood (see previous Shtetl-Optimized coverage here and here), has been in the news again, with a new Internet anti-censorship system called Telex that he co-developed with Ian Goldberg, Eric Wustrow, and Scott Wolchok (see, e.g., here, here, here for more info). Basically, Telex would let interested governments or ISPs help the citizens of (say) China or Iran access content that their governments are trying to block. Having gotten hold of the Telex software (say, from a friend), the Chinese or Iranian websurfer would access an innocuous-looking website, but insert cryptographic tags into its HTTPS requests to alert an ISP along the way (not an ISP inside China or Iran) that it wanted to activate the anti-censorship service.
If you happen to be a high-level official at the State Department or a three-letter agency, or a wealthy philanthropist, I can think of few smarter things you could do than to support this kind of effort. The system that Alex and his collaborators envision wouldn’t be trivial to deploy, but it’s certainly cheaper than aircraft carriers.
Meanwhile, in other Al?x news, my cousin Alix Genter was splashed across the cover of Philadelphia Daily News this morning (you can read the accompanying article here). What happened is that the owner of a bridal store in New Jersey called “Here Comes the Bride” refused to sell Alix a wedding dress, after finding out that Alix plans to marry another woman in New York State. So now supporters of gay rights are having a field day with Here Comes the Bride’s Yelp page.
I wish both of these Al?xes the best, as they work toward a better world in their different ways.