Monday, July 06, 2009

25 Year Old Bay Area Geek Who Facilitates Iranian Web Protests Info Under Direct Attack From Iran

Austin Heap a 25 year old bay area geek and IT director is developing a program called haystack that allows Iranian protesters to get their message through to the outside world in spite of the Iranian government establishment attempts to shutdown internet and phone access.

Heap has become somewhat of a local Iranian community and media darling since he developed methods that allowed Iranians to tweet and use other web communities to report what they see and hear is going on on the ground in Iran in the early days of the recent protests.

Prior to the the uprising Heap knew little about the internal workings of Iran. But he started the project because he strongly believes in free speech. "Americans ignored the subversion of their democracy. When the Iranians stood up to secure theirs, I could not let them down. The revolution may not be televised, but it will be tweeted." Heap is quoted as saying.
"Heap's weapon in the past few days was the proxy server, a computer configured to act as an intermediary between a computer user and the Internet. Such servers have many legitimate functions, such as speeding response times, and some illegitimate ones, such as helping spammers hide their identities."

What interested Heap was the use of a proxy server to bypass censorship. Properly configured, a proxy server could identify Web surfers in Iran and route them to Twitter and other sites the government had restricted. People around the world were posting network addresses for such proxies on Twitter and elsewhere, Heap said, but there was no organization and the servers were unpredictable."

Heap needs your help. His web server has been under attack directly by the Iranian government and that's the least of his problems. He is attempting to bring other willing programmers to San Francisco to work on the project but lacks the funds. He is trying disparately to get Haystack completed to coincide with the upcoming general strike in Iran. You can help by donating money and getting the word out to your friends and their friends in your online social communities like twitter, facebook and myspace.

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