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Protecting your privacy and defeating censorship using proxies

Submitted by Karthik on 18 July, 2006 - 12:26

After the public exhibition of gross incompetence by the Indian government and ISPs alike, it is in everybody's interest to know how to bypass these ridiculous blanket bans.

The following is a general guide that will ideally allow you to visit said blocked sites. If you have any questions or comments, please use the fora.

It is recommended that you use Firefox to follow any steps outlined below. However, it should be reasonably straightforward to adapt them to other browsers as well.

What is a proxy?

A proxy (server) to put it simply, acts like a middleman and retrieves web pages on your behalf. For e.g. since the GOI and incompetent techs at ISPs all over India have decided to block blogs like mumbaihelp on blogspot, instead of asking your browser to retrieve the mumbaihelp page, you can ask your browser to ask the middleman (proxy) to get it for you. So, for all essential purposes, you are only accessing the middleman (who has not been censored) and not mumbaihelp.

Using a web proxy:

Web proxies are websites which retrieve requested pages on the Internet and generally allow for seamless browsing of a website. No browser configuration is required. These websites are however commonly supported by ad banners. A list of working web proxies is as follows:

Please report any dead links.

Using Tor, Vidalia and Privoxy:

Tor is an EFF supported project that hooks you up to a distributed proxy network. To quote:

Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves.

Tor is easy to install and use, is resonably secure and pretty much made to order for this situation. In combination with an extension like FoxyProxy (see further below), it can be configured to affect only the sites in question.

Use the official Tor installation guide (for Windows) to install the Tor, Vidalia and Privoxy bundle. You can avoid Step 2 if you are going to use the FoxyProxy extension. Step 4 of the guide is unnecessary.

Linux users will most probably be able to install it using their package managers.

Once installed, follow the steps below to download and configure FoxyProxy.


FoxyProxy is a Firefox browser extension that allows for powerful management of proxies, and is especially useful when used in tandem with Tor as it comes with a handy Tor wizard.

  1. Install the extension in Firefox..
  2. Restart Firefox.
  3. Open the FoxyProxy panel (Ctrl + F2 or Tools -> FoxyProxy). Click on File -> Tor Wizard.
  4. Run through the wizard with default values. You should install it with Privoxy support if you have Privoxy installed.
  5. In the URL pattern screen, delete the example pattern using the delete button. Add a new pattern for blogspot - *blogspot* will ensure that any URL that has the term blogspot in it will be passed through the proxy. The resulting pattern should look like this:
  6. Try visiting and see if you get through.
  7. Add patterns for other blocked domains similarly. You should click on 'edit selection' (for the Tor proxy) in the FoxyProxy proxies screen. This will take you back to the add / edit / delete pattern dialogue. The Tor wizard should be necessary only once.

This document is incomplete and something of a draught at the moment and will be updated as and when time permits.