Some anti-government blogs in Fiji are reporting that their readers are finding it impossible to read them.
Several of the websites are reportedly blocked in such a way that people using Fiji-based internet service providers cannot access them.
Radio Australia has been contacted by internet users in Fiji who report their attempts to read those blogs result in their computer constantly trying to connect and finally giving an error message.
The operator of one of the anti-government blogs, Coup Four Point Five, says it's clear that something or someone is interfering with internet access in Fiji.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speakers: Fijian blogger Coup Four Point Five, Australian IT consultant on computer security, Patrick Gray
BLOGGER: I think we have had some evidence when we look at the number of hits that have taken place on our blog on the last four, five days, compared to where we were in the last three may be for four weeks. Coup Four Point Five suddenly took off with a huge surge recently, but in the last four or five days, our hits have been very minimal and I have also been told by contacts in Fiji and in New Zealand that the military is actually watching the blog sites very carefully. So I think that gives us something to really think about.
HILL: Why do you think the military are doing this, if indeed it's true that they are in fact blocking access to these blogs?
BLOGGER: They have shown previously Bruce, that they are very sensitive to publicity. That can't be challenged and I think the media are quite right in saying that they are paranoid about the coverage about Fiji and in particular of late the attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has been receiving and some of the others who are quite high up in the hierarchy there too, the interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, so a lot of sensitivity I would think regarding some of the issues and some of the programs and the initiatives that they have been trying to push through without success, but I think recently to we had the drama over the expulsion of the senior diplomatic staff from New Zealand and Australia being given the boot again. So I would say that the radar has gone up again and the paranoia has returned.
HILL: There is a way around the apparent blocking of access to certain internet sites within Fiji, but it involves people downloading and installing what's called an anonymizer program. This fools the internet into thinking a request to see a web page is coming from outside Fiji. Australian IT consultant on computer security, Patrick Gray, says it's quite feasible technically to have access to certain web sites blocked, especially by governments.
GRAY: Absolutely, I mean anyone sitting upstream from you where you are getting your access from, whether that's your internet service provider or their upstream provider which provides the access to them that they on sell to you. If they wish to do so, they can block access to specific sites. In fact, that's very similar to what the Australian Government wants to introduce here in Australia.
HILL: Now you can use what's called an anonymizer program, can't you, to get around that so that it looks to the ISP that you're actually coming from outside Fiji?
GRAY: Yeah, it's a project called Tor, which is a very interesting piece of software. Believe it or not it was originally developed the US navy to allow servicemen who were in other countries to not divulge their location that they were visiting, that was the purpose that it was originally developed. But now it is open to the public, and anyone can use it. If you go to torproject.and that's Torproject.org. There is a fairly good explanation how it works there. It is a little bit geeky, but if you read it you will be able to wrap your head around it and essentially Tor is something that you install on your computer and it allows you to access a whole bunch of other. It basically routs your connection to a whole bunch of other computers.
HILL: They can do that, but it is a bit of an extra impediment to access isn't it, It's a bit of a speed bump on the way to actually reading these blogs?
GRAY: Yeah, look it's a speed bump, but thankfully it's not a stop sign. It means that if people really want to be able to access that information, they still can. Sure there is a little bit of a hurdle there, which is going to make life a little bit tougher for people if they want to read those sites, but they still can. I mean filtering the internet is pretty difficult. It is not really feasible to be able to stop people from being able to access information that's available on the worldwide web. But as you said they can introduce some speed bumps and just try to make it a little bit more difficult.