OK, a contest! How many Iranian secret police do you think are going to read this post? 1-2? 3-4? more? Seriously, personally, I am pretty sure its more than 1 and almost certain its more than zero! In East Germany under the Soviets, the number of spies (that is people secretly reporting on their neighbors reached about 1 per 166 people) "Between 1950 and 1989, the Stasi employed a total of 274,000 persons in an effort to root out the 'class enemy'. In terms of total inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs) Stasi informants, by 1995, 174,000 had been identified, which approximated 2.5% of East Germany's population between the ages of 18 and 60. While these calculations were from official records, because many such records were destroyed, there were likely closer to 500,000 Stasi informers. A former Stasi colonel estimated that the figure could be as high as 2 million if occasional informants were included. (see wikipedia article on Stasi)" So what does that mean for us? I think it means that -- we should assume that any technique for circumventing Internet blocking, private communication, etc. becomes public knowledge to the Iranian secret police -- the minute we discuss it. Moreover, we know that the protesters, twitters, etc. who have been arrested are being tortured. "Amnesty International is gravely concerned that several opposition leaders detained in the wake of the 12 June elections may be facing torture, possibly to force them to make televised “confessions” as a prelude to unfair trials in which they could face the death penalty. " (see amnesty international site) Also read the case of Zahra "Ziba" Kazemi-Ahmadaba (see wikipedia). The man who oversaw her torture is in charge of the imprisoned protesters. What does that mean? There is a not so funny comic which pictures a computer geeky guy thinking, "I have AES security, strong passwords, etc. I'm safe." Then two guys come along and say "Lets hit him with this pipe until he tells us the password". The not so funny point is low tech can overcome high tech. In the case of torture, it is my understanding that almost everyone cracks at some point. So our hypothetical protester, will divulge his password, contacts, etc. eventually once arrested. So my thoughts about a secure USB stick are somewhat off the point, unless it can give plausible deniability. What does this mean for us? I don't think it means should give up. However it does mean that we should look for techniques that meet the following very related requirements: 1. Are very good at hiding so you don't get found 2. Are hard to find even if you know they are being used. Also if there is anyway we can make it easier to hide that would be good. Anyway some late night thoughts. My heart goes out to those locked up in Evin Prison.