Uncensoring The Web With RePress

A brand new plugin released by GreenHost aims to make censoring the web next to impossible. It’s called RePress and turns any WordPress powered website it’s installed on into a proxy server. The plugin was created in response to piratebay.org being blocked within the Netherlands due to a court ruling.

Header Image As Seen On Their WordPress.org Plugin Page

RePress uses phpproxyimproved as its HTML parser which is another piece of open source code that allows the proxy magic to happen. After installing the plugin, you’ll need to give it a unique URL that will be used when going through the proxy to the blocked website. I received the following message after trying to view one of the default websites that are added to the proxy list:

In order to protect your blog from cross-site scripting attacks, please log out of your WordPress administration backend before accessing any of the proxied site urls.
Please log out of WordPress by clicking on this logout link.

Afterwards you will be directly redirected to the proxied website.
For security reasons. This will also delete all cookies for this domain (your remembered settings will be lost).

So if there is a particular website that you visit often using your site as a proxy, you’ll need to bookmark the URL and visit it only when you’re logged out of WordPress.

If you decide to give RePress a try, please give GreenHost some feedback on it via the following forum thread.


9 responses to “Uncensoring The Web With RePress”

  1. The threat that Piratebay, Megaupload etc pose to commercial interests (copyright theft) is not that big a deal to me on the personal level (even though I recognize it as “wrong”), and I don’t see where it is that much of an objective threat to the commercial sectors they’re ripping off, either.

    Where this gets more worrisome, is that when Congress etc watches us commit our talent & effort to building defenses to protect lawbreaking activities, sees us glamorizing & lionizing an aggressive anti-business deployment of the Internet to attack perfectly legal & ordinary commercial activity … we are allowing & encouraging a serious threat to our own interests. Things we care about and are excited about, are being exposed to increasing risk.

    Congress progressively gains greater power & ability to take steps to ‘collar’ the Internet, as the public watches these clever maneuvers – at our initiative – to enable Piratebay etc to continue engaging in lawbreaking. We lose public support. Citizens & voters steadily come to see the problem as rooted in the Internet, and even the Open Source culture, per se.

    We look more & more like Occupy Zuccotti, with a haircut and underarm deodorant.

    WordPress, and various communities built on the open & free Internet, should publicly speak out against the protection of outlaws. Otherwise, we are handing a ever more-menacing club to interests & powers, who will use it against us.

  2. @Ted Clayton – It’s going to be interesting to see how all this plays out. Indeed, we live in exciting times! We need to continue to speak out, speak often, and speak loud — so that our freedom of speech & press is not censured.

    The US Constitution allows Americans “freedom of speech” in that we are allowed to organize & speak out against our leaders & those who occupy office. It does NOT guarantee free speech across the board if it involves copyright infringement. That’s a very serious matter.

    Just like health-care reform proposals, the bills they are trying to pass to stop Internet piracy are lengthy, prepared by those who do not comprehend how business owners & entrepreneurs use the web (and social media) to promote their business, and the preparers do not rely on the Internet for their main source of up-to-date world information.

    We feel they are, once again, going to WAY OVERSTEP our basic rights to conduct business in our everyday world marketplace.

    According to the Laws of the Land, those who are deliberately breaking the law, flagrantly circumventing true copyright laws and, in essence, stealing others’ intellectual property & work SHOULD be brought to justice. In full agreement with “Ted Clayton,” it’s “just wrong.”

    Conversely, to come up with an all-inclusive set of “do’s & don’ts” for the entire Internet seems preposterous and doomed at conception. Government is not capable of regulating what they do not understand; as evidenced time & time & time again!

    It’s one thing to shut the doors of a company pirating music & movies for unjust gain. It’s another thing entirely to cancel social media accounts and remove WordPress posts because, let’s say, someone has a “Black Eyed Peas” song in the background without permission from the record company.

    We’ll see how it plays out and hope to have have an active part, or a vote, in the matter. We don’t want our business (My Positive Perspective) of helping others overcome adversity, to be hindered in our efforts to reach people in need…because of overzealous governmental regulations of the Internet.

    What if we use the wrong music on a YouTube video? What if…social media sites & servers like Facebook, YouTube, WordPress & others are forced into micro-managing accounts? Our target audience will be cut off at the knees; and all we’re trying to accomplish online is helping others!

    They always seem to “…strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel.” If these Bills are passed, it will hurt small business owners for sure, and the BIG abusers of the system WILL find yet another way to keep making their money. *shaking my head*

    This makes sense, “WordPress, and various communities built on the open & free Internet, should publicly speak out against the protection of outlaws. Otherwise, we are handing a ever more-menacing club to interests & powers, who will use it against us.”

    HOWEVER, there is another side of the debate that feels we ALL have the the right to communicate in whatever way we feel is necessary and it’s wrong to be censured at all. Instead, they should just bust the main offenders & shut them down. I thought that was already happening with “Pirate Bay?” If they can do that, then why do they need to make up all these regulations anyway? Maybe they need to enforce the already existing Laws & just do their job(s) better?

    Like a FB status: “IT’S COMPLICATED”

  3. And don’t forget all the outlaws in China and Iran whom this plugin will likely be used to assist. We don’t want those governments thinking WordPress is just for linking to a bunch of criminals, and thereby further increasing censorship of the Internet in those countries.

  4. @OnlineDesign

    Okayyy – all you who are actually following this important discussion – make sure you have read the post at the top of the page, and are clear on what this is about … and what it’s not directly about. :)

    To review quickly, this is about a WordPress plugin that you install to make your site become a proxy server, expressly to enable Piratebay to continue illegal operations, clandestinely.

    Now I will go ahead and touch on what this post is NOT actually about, but about which many are of course concerned – SOPA/PIPA. We did good, agitating against this bad legislation. It was harmful to the Intenet … it seems possible to me, it may have been designed & intended to be so.

    But if we now embrace tools designed & intended to subvert lawful court orders (to halt Piratebay’s illegal activity), that is the wrong response to SOPA/PIPA, and those other Bills that are coming down the pipeline behind it.

    Indeed, doing this makes us the same as those Occupy Oakland people who we see going bonkers on the Law and tearing up the town. Taking their anger out, not on Wall Street and Fat Cats, but on regular people and local communities.

    I’m sympathetic to the principles behind Occupy, but their behavior couldn’t be a bigger threat their own cause, if it was designed by undercover agents who’s job it is to ensure that their Movement dies in infancy.

    If you’re good with WordPress & the Internet ending up on the Occupy road … if you’re cool with handing major ammunition to those who want SOPA/PIPA (and a puny Internet) … then go to the top of this page and click on that plugin.

  5. @Brian Carnell

    And don’t forget all the outlaws in China and Iran…

    Excellent points, Brian! … Pretty tough for China to take our Open Source copyrights seriously, when they watch us not only celebrate piracy, but install tools on our own websites to run the pirate operation, ourselves.

  6. Dear all,

    Thank you for your comments and remarks to our plug-in.
    First of all I’d like to stretch that this plugin was made in response to a court-ruling blocking the Piratebay in the Netherlands, but it is by no means solely meant for this purpose.

    The court-ruling basically pointed out a vulnerability in the web which we’d like to mend. We are not in favor of pirating but we are against censorship. We think that there are better ways to ensure honest pay for honest work then blocking websites: not only a dumb solution but also highly ineffective as this plug-in shows.

    For the same reason I think that people are protesting PIPA and SOPA: we understand what the laws are trying to address, but we just don’t like the way they are going at it. Laws like these that don’t work where intended and cause harm and damage in other areas are bad laws. The OpenWeb is to important to brake with stupid laws defending only the interest of the publishing industry.

    At any rate it remains to be seen what the effects of plug-ins like these have on the Open-Source community, but the way some people argue here makes it sound like the Pirates and Occupiers are the newest addition in the ever-growing list of wrong-doers on the internet like child-abusers, terrorists and hackers that stifle any discussion.

    Almost any tool can be used for good and evil, but so far the Open Web as a tool has tilted very heavily to deliver on the Good side; if we want this to continue, we’ll need to first make sure that their are laws protecting it and if that fails; tools to circumvent those laws, just like many already have to do today outside the US.

  7. @Greenhost

    We think that there are better ways to ensure honest pay for honest work then blocking websites: not only a dumb solution but also highly ineffective as this plug-in shows.

    Aiding & abetting a criminal activity is of course a crime, itself.

    To author code that “breaks” a high court ruling, is not an argument against that legal judgement.

    To imply that each of us can decide independently what constitutes honest pay for others’ efforts, or how they will be compensated for use of their property, is not only ethically & morally suspect, it is a fair definition of anarchy.

    The copyright laws that Greenhost and RePress aim to undermine, are the same laws on which Open Source licenses are based. Without effective copyright protection, persons & nations can ignore the provisions of the GPL.

    Greenhost’s logic can be used to rip off Open Source, far more easily than it can be used to rip off musicians or the entertainment industry.

    Our laws are imperfect, but not so much that wrecking them will help. Society is imperfect, but not so much that we need a Revolution.


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