Hacking enthusiasts were this week given the first public demo of Peek-A-Booty, a much-anticipated software application that promises to defeat internet censorship although it is still under development.

The peer-to-peer (P2P) system offers anonymity by users sending a request for data to another computer on its network. Each computer records only the IP address of the previous computer until it reaches its destination. The requested data is then sent back down the chain to the original user.

The data is hidden by using the same secure server system as that employed in standard e-commerce transactions. To block use of the system, a censor would in effect also need to block e-commerce transactions. According to the developers, 21 countries currently censor the internet.

The controversial application was developed by Paul Baranowski and Joey deVilla of the Hacktivismo group, a splinter group of the Cult of the Dead Cow (cDCc), a well known developer of internet security and privacy tools.

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