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October 28, 2013

uProxy and Lantern Are Worth Using Together

If you’re lucky enough to live in a country that doesn’t suppress its citizens’ Internet usage, then you might not be up to date on the latest advances in anti-censorship tools. Two tools in particular have been making waves lately: uProxy and Lantern.

One of several new tools launched by Google Ideas at its summit meeting last week, uProxy, is a browser extension created expressly for the purpose of resisting online attacks by repressive regimes. In other words, it allows people in censored countries to connect to those in uncensored countries. Since it was just launched, it makes sense that uProxy is getting a lot of attention at the moment — but what about Lantern?

Lantern is a very similar anti-censorship tool developed by Brave New Software that precedes uProxy. The launch of the latter has sparked further discussion of the former because of their similarities — both leverage peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to bypass Internet blocks — as well as the fact that Brave New Software also developed uProxy.

Obviously, this has caused many to speculate as to whether Lantern can now be considered succeeded and therefore defunct. The short answer is no.

Originally, when Brave New Software founder and president Adam Fisk started talking to Google engineer Lucas Dixon, the plan was indeed to create a Lantern 2.0, but the plan changed to create something quite different.

Aside from the fact that Lantern boasts a lot more development time and is therefore ahead of uProxy both technically and in terms of usability, the two also differ in that Lantern is software while uProxy is a browser extension. There’s also the fact that uProxy relies on WebRTC to bypass censorship, hiding traffic in amongst high-bandwidth video and audio calls.

Lantern, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on WebRTC, taking a different approach to masking traffic. As such, the two are best used in conjunction — at least for now. Going forward, Lantern and uProxy should start operating more alike, according to Fisk.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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