It seems that the United States has been trying to find ways to get current news through the censors of various countries including China, and according to Fox News they have been successful with a technology called, “Feed Over e-mail.” Information about the program was acquired via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The foe-project, hosted by Google and created in May 2009, is “a new anti-censorship tool that allows users in censored countries to receive news updates.” The only requirement is that the end user be able to use POP3 and SMTP, along with an email account from a foreign provider. It works by compressing the payload to evade keyword filters employed by China and other regimes.
While this tool will obviously not help citizens when a country shuts down access to the internet, it can be used to provide information that would otherwise be unavailable. It allows the recipients to receive RSS feeds, proxy sites to bypass security measures, or TOR clients to surf online anonymously.
The question remains whether this should be considered cyber warfare or not. While many may not agree with China’s policies, does the country have the right to decide what their citizens can read? If the roles were reversed would people consider this an attack considering it is breaking through the security controls put in place by a country?
Time will tell whether China will simply block access to the remote mail servers, thus ending the usefulness of the tool.