ב׳ באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ד (February 2, 2014)
Program from Israeli startup can get you to your requested page faster, even if it’s a site that is blocked in your country.
Hola, a free application from Israeli startup formerly known as Zon Networks, that aims to accelerate the Internet and allow Web surfers to view whatever websites they like, regardless of region, has been a hit with users in the U.S. and Europe, who are employing it to watch foreign programming (from “Doctor Who” to sports) that is otherwise off limits, and to vastly expand Netflix’s offerings by accessing the company’s foreign sites.
But the software could be an even more significant game-changer for Web surfers living under repressive regimes.
Governments in China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, among others, block their citizens from accessing a range of popular sites — from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to news sources like The New York Times — that they have deemed subversive.
But Hola is slowly beginning to pick up users in these countries. CEO Ofer Vilenski says his team has more work to do to optimize the software for such use, but they’re rolling out updates “every day” and hope to soon provide a reliable route around the firewalls.
Hola, which was originally developed simply as a way to speed up the internet by caching encrypted packets of data on users’ spare storage space, is not the only VPN proxy on the market. But it is free and unusually simple to use.
In theory, it’s also more powerful, because unlike similar systems, it does not use dedicated servers (which can be detected and blocked by censors), but instead routes traffic through other Hola users’ devices.
It also allows “power users” to write and share simple scripts that reroute traffic through different countries, essentially crowd-sourcing new pathways around firewalls.
So far, the results are promising. Users in Tehran who tried Hola at Business Insider’s request were able to access Facebook and other sites. And in initial tests performed by a team in China working with venture capitalist and prominent anti-censorship activist Isaac Mao, the service allowed users to circumvent the Great Firewall.
The company’s cash flow comes mainly from a fundraising round that included Magma Venture Partners, Tamir Fishman Ventures, the California-based Draper Fisher Jurvetson venture fund, Seattle-based Trilogy Equity Partners and the Hong Kong billionaire investor Li Ka-shing.
(read more at Business Insider)
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