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Handbook offers tips for cyberdissidents

New 87-page booklet from Reporters Without Borders gives bloggers advice on dodging state censors.

Free-speech advocate Reporters Without Borders has published a guide for blogging in China, Iran and other countries that strictly censor the Web.

The 87-page booklet, titled "The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents," includes chapters on how to blog anonymously and on technical ways to get around censorship. Released on Thursday, the handbook is available for free online in English, French, Chinese, Arabic and Farsi.

"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure," Reporters Without Borders' Julien Pain writes in the handbook's introduction. "Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest."

At least 70 "cyberdissidents" have been imprisoned to date, according to the Paris-based group. China has jailed the most, with a total of 62 sent to prison, the group said.

Arash Sigarchi, a contributor to the handbook, may soon be one of them. The Iranian government sentenced him this year to 14 years in jail for writing critically about the regime. He is free, pending an appeal.

In addition to bloggers' personal stories, the booklet offers technical information for dodging government censors, including tips for thwarting filtering technology that can block access to select Web pages. The book also covers e-mail encryption, online pseudonyms and anonymous proxies, discussing ethics and how to attract an audience.

"This advice is, of course, not for those (terrorists, racketeers or pedophiles) who use the Internet to commit crimes," Pain writes. "The handbook is simply to help bloggers encountering opposition because of what they write to maintain their freedom of expression."

U.S. journalist Dan Gillmor, Canadian specialist in Internet censorship Nart Villeneuve and U.S. blogger Jay Rosen all helped produce the book, Reporters Without Borders said.

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