The Dissident Test is a CornerCase example often used by participants of the Debian-Legal mailing list to define what qualifies as FreeSoftware. The Dissident Test (aka. the Chinese Dissident Test) emphasizes the freedom to anonymously modify and distribute FreeSoftware.
The example was first proposed by ?BrianRistuccia in the following paragraph.
"Imagine for a second the case of a political dissident in an oppressive nation who uses anonymous email to send quick snippets to news agencies in the rest of the world. He's discovered a security problem in Mixmaster and wants to share the fixed version with his buddies via sneakernet. He's using a bunch of extremely slow and expensive throwaway wireless and dialup links, and every time he keys up to transmit he risks revealing his location. As a result, he must keep transmissions very short and leave the area immediately afterwards. Why should he be forced to face either: 1. letting his friends use an insecure version of Mixmaster, or 2. emailing his substantial modifications to Anonymizer, Inc. and risking his location?"
While any type of dissident whould make the point, ?ThomasBushnell later described an example using "chinese programmer dissidents" which have become the variety of choice.
The Debian-Legal mailing list: http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/
The original dissident test: http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/08/msg00282.html
The first Chinese dissident test: http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/12/msg00227.html