Censorship: Rejecting a One-Sided Argument
Rejecting a One-Sided Argument
Publication date: 2022-03-05
Update 2022-03-07: additional testing shows that pure Tor is not working, but the solution presented below does.
Update 2022-03-08: Rumble player has been added to RT, seems to work at least as well as RT player. Pure Tor based connections continue to not work, while that presented below does.
Update 2022-03-26: The first solution presented below does NOT WORK any more. This has been true since at least March 25. One passes the ‘DDoS Guard’ but is not presented with the RT video player. Any other action from this point leads to a ‘403’ error. RT is still uploading to its Rumble channel, but this does not include their full 30 minute news presentations, in which I was interested. A direct visit to https://www.rt.com using the method below will show their news article headlines, but again, any attempt to follow a link leads to the ‘403’ error.
I am unaware of who is blocking the previous access, but it looks like RT itself has an error in its site protection. For example, if you know the full address of a program, for example this with Micheal Hudson, you do get access. But if you can’t “click around” how does one find the program’s full address?
This is infuriating.
Part 2: Found a solution!!! Start Tor Browser (Bundle), then start Google Chrome from the command line like this. For GNU/Linux:
google-chrome-stable --proxy socks5:127.0.0.1:9150
More details tomorrow (I’ll check out the relevant command for windows). Tested as working with both Rumble and Odysee players, but not RT’s native player.
Update 2022-03-27: Details on the work around are provided under “Solution 2” below.
Update 2022-04-02: I observed that the “Rumble” player was not working today, but the “Odysee” player was.
Update 2022-10-19: “Solution” 3 is added. Its is not a solution. The banning is almost complete.
The European Union and the USA assert that among various rights of the civilian they support free speech. The USA has in its first constitutional amendment a pretty bright line which bars the government from making any law which "abridg[es] the freedom of speech". This, of course, does not stop that government or its agencies from encouraging another government to lock up a journalist for publishing true information, but that's another topic.
The European Convention on Human Rights also supports freedom of expression. As for education, Article 2 begins:
No person shall be denied the right to education.
If one takes these two principles together they amount to an aspiration for a society in which positions on matters practical or ideological are taken and evolve based on discourse and dialogue. Opinions are encouraged and counter opinions equally so, with the populace to come to their own positions based upon their assessments of the quality of evidence and argument provided. I cherish this ideal. It is one of the greatest products of the European Enlightenment. Importantly, one can accept and validate, and empathize with another's life experience and suffering and still disagree with the position that they take on an issue. These are not mutually exclusive. Compassion and understanding are companions of this aspiration for a tolerant and considered society. Our artists and philosophers have long shone light onto these nuances of perception and rejection of binary thinking.
Censoring an opinion does not counter it, it subverts it. The EU has used law to censor opinion, that of RT in this case. The USA being somewhat prohibited from this legal course, has used its influence over or collaboration with their tech giants for the same purpose. The Russian Federation is also getting involved in the censorship game. Ukraine's request to the Internet regulator to revoke networks from Russia have been politely rejected.
In a conflict with a complex history how am I meant to develop a balanced understanding if one protagonist's perspective is repressed? How am I meant to stay up to date with events, if I wish to, without one side's perspective? I utterly reject censorship as a valid method of "winning an argument" or a method of denying me access to a nuanced understanding of events.
Russia Today's one line description of itself is:
RT is the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which brings the Russian view on global news.
It does not hide its funding either. See the footer of the "About" page:
RT is an autonomous, non-profit organization that is publicly financed from the budget of the Russian Federation.
So, RT is analogous to BBC, France-24, Deutsche Welle, CBC, ABC (Australia) and many other "western" government news agencies; government funded and brings their national (or government) perspective to issues they cover.
Informed by this, if there is conflict armed or diplomatic between Russia and others I expect RT's coverage to be different from that of the counterpart, and to include or even be dominated by the perspective that Russia's government wishes to convey. This will be triply so during an armed conflict. I can work with that. I expect the reverse biases in Ukrainian government approved media sources, and those by media agencies of other allied nations. I can work with that too!
What I will not tolerate is being denied access to the different perspectives.
For those in Europe who wish to access RT, here is a method. I presume you have little trouble with all of the western media sources, government or commercial. An equivalent method may work for Russia citizens seeking to access censored western content, but I have had no opportunity to test that.
Much to my frustration this no longer works. See below for Solution 2.
Install the Tor Browser Bundle
Create a Profile in Firefox and configure that profile to use the Tor network to route its traffic
Use that Profile to access RT
Use the Tor Project's installer for installing the Tor Browser Bundle for your operating system, if you do not already have Tor Browser installed.
Use Mozilla's installer to install Firefox for your operating system, if you do not already have Firefox installed.
Use Mozilla's documentation for how to create a Profile. You will choose a profile name. You’ll need that below.
Launch Firefox with that profile. Either you need to do this from a custom launch icon, or it can be done from the command-line. I use GNU/Linux and use the following command-line:
firefox -P <profile name>This command-line method should work for Mac and maybe even Windows computers.
When using Firefox launched with that profile use Mozilla's instructions to access Network Settings
In those settings make a ‘Manual proxy configuration’ and use the settings show in the image below EXACTLY as shown, including the two ‘empty’ boxes, and the '127.0.0.1' and the '9150' boxes and ensure that SOCKSv5 is selected:
"Ok" the dialogue and close Firefox.
Please do this. It will give you two pieces of information; how to know if you forgot to start Tor Browser (Bundle) before using the Firefox profile, and whether you correctly configured that profile.
If you have Tor Browser running, stop it.
Launch Firefox with your profile for using Tor.
Attempt to visit any website (e.g duckduckgo.com)
If you get the following message on the page, it means that you have correctly configured the profile and that Tor is not running.
In our multi-lingual world, this is likely to be in your native language. This is a successful test of failure. It means that your network settings are correct and that Tor is not running.
If you do not see the message then either Tor is running or you have not configured its use correctly (or both). Do not proceed until you have successfully achieved this error message. To ensure Tor is not running you can restart your computer and not start Tor Browser. If your Firefox profile still shows a page rather than the helpful error message, check how you configured the profile in the step above. You got it wrong. Go back above, and be meticulous.
Next, completing successful testing amounts to:
Start Tor Browser, and then
Launch Firefox with the new profile you have created.
In that ‘profiled’ Firefox go to any website, e.g duckduckgo.com and you should see the relevant page.
This is a successful test of success.
Now, to access RT copy the address below into the address bar (the white bar near the top) of Firefox and press Return:
This works reliably for me. Sorry if it doesn’t for you. The Rumble player seems to be working as least as well as the RT player.
Beware, patience is required. With success, you may wish to bookmark the URL. Bookmarks, like the network settings are confined to the profile and will not clutter up any other Firefox you may have.
You may get a “Secure connection failed” message. Use Control+F5 to force a page reload.
Note: Directly accessing https://www.rt.com via Tor Browser Bundle was failing earlier today, but is now succeeding, sometimes. As of two days later, the Tor Browser Bundle is not successfully accessing RT, but the solution presented above still does. The behaviour continues to 2022-03-08.
Firstly, if one has already installed the "RT News" app for one's phone, a friend has reported to me that this works fine. I could not install this as its banished from Google's "App Store".
What does work is starting Tor Browser (Bundle) and then starting Google Chrome (as opposed to Firefox, used in the previous solution) which is instructed to use the Tor network to route its traffic.
Install Tor Browser Bundle (see instruction above in "Solution 1")
You need to have Google Chrome installed and know the name of the program which launches it. For me, installing from Google's repository using RedHat's Fedora Core GNU/Linux distribution, it is:
Know whatever it is for you. Test it, by typing the name at a command-line (terminal) prompt. Then, to view RT just:
1. Start Tor Browser (bundle)
2. Launch Chrome with the arguments --proxy socks:127.0.0.1:9150. E.g in a terminal window type, substituting
google-chrome-stable with whatever is correct for you:
google-chrome-stable --proxy socks:127.0.0.1:9150 https://www.rt.com/on-air/rumble
Needless to say, this is ALL one ONE LINE. I tested this. If you copy the above it does not include a newline.
The Odysee player also works, but the RT native player does not (for me).
In windows we do almost exactly the same but via a slightly different mechanism. To add arguments to an executable (program) in Windows one first creates a shortcut to the executable from whichever icon launches it, and then paste that shortcut elsewhere, for example on your desktop. You then edit the shortcut to add the arguments. This method is neatly explained here for Windows 10. Read that before proceeding.
Install Tor Browser Bundle (see above in "Solution 1").
Install Google Chrome
Create the shortcut to Google Chrome
Paste the shortcut to somewhere (e.g desktop)
Edit the shortcut (right click, Properties) …
Add after everything that is in the Target field a space character (don't forget the space) and that following:
One could probably add the "https://www.rt.com/on-air/rumble" (with a space between what is in Target and this URL) and this will take you directly to the RT video page. If not, just type it in the address bar, and when you've verified it works, bookmark it.
I have no Windows 10 so cannot test this.
GNU/Linux Part 2
Here's a nifty little shell script for the GNU/Linux people:
Go here and do NOT use the “copy to clipboard” button, but select all of the text and copy it
Open a text editor and paste in the text. If you have "auto indent" enabled; stop it. This should be a pure paste. Then, save the file with a useful name (for example ‘google-tor’ in a place which is in your PATH or you know where it is and make it executable. Assuming you chose the name 'google-tor' the command to make this executable from a terminal is:
cd my-tools # or wherever you saved the file
chmod u+x google-tor
Then, just run it from a terminal in the directory where you put it:
cd my-tools # or wherever you put the now executable file
If you’re having trouble, hit me up via Twitter at @yesxorno1 (note the change, I screwed up), I’ll provide help and update this article if there are common problems.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
There is no solution. google-chrome-stable in GNU/Linux is refusing to use its proxy settings. The simple test was using the above advertised solution and getting a 403 (connection denied). Tests to a local university showed them working. Stopping Tor had no effect on chrome’s ability to work. Meanwhile, I can access rt.com (though poorly) via Tor.
Thus, chrome is lying. It is not accepting its proxy arguments.
The only solution I can see is that RT’s publications via Rumble are still accessible via Tor, but reliability is poor due to Tor’s disparate network of relays with differing capacity.
Sorry for all the doom and gloom. Remember when shit happens, arseholes cause it.
I am NOT endorsing what RT is broadcasting. I am endorsing your right to be able to access it and make up your own mind.
First Amendment, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School
Google pulls Russia Today, Sputnik from Play Store as EU ban looms, Natasha Lomas, Tech Crunch, 2022-03-02
Russia blocks access to Facebook and Twitter, Dan Milmo, The Guardian, 2022-03-04
ICANN rejects Ukraine's request to block Russia from the internet, Steven Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet, 2022-03-03
Defending Freedom And Democracy Sure Requires An Awful Lot Of Censorship, Caitlin Johnstone, her newsletter, 2022-03-02
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