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October 23, 2013

Google Developing Tools to Help Fight For Free Expression

Photo credit: Robert Scoble via flickr

Google has announced three tools it’s developing in conjunction with partners from across the country to aid people living in repressive nations.

The search engine giant unveiled it’s newest ideas at the “Conflict in a Connected World” summit hosted in New York City earlier this week.

Google Ideas – the company’s self-proclaimed “think tank” – has been working with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Gen Next Foundation and has debuted three tools: Project Shield, Digital Attack Map and uProxy. The company posted a video of its latest venture, here

As long as people have expressed ideas, other have tried to silence them” says Google. It’s latest initiative is meant to combat the online censorship people still face all around the world.

Online barriers can include everything from filters that block content to targeted attacks designed to take down websites,” it says. “For many people, these obstacles are more than an inconvenience – they represent full-scale oppression.”

Project Shield enables people to utilize Google’s own security measures against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The program works by using “PageSpeed Service”, explains one technology site, by which Google scans the users’ website and then hosts a copy on one of its own servers, making it less likely to fall victim to a DDoS attack.

So far, Project Shield is accessible though invitation only, and Google is testing its product on “webmasters serving independent news, humans rights and elections-related content.”

Google’s Digital Attack Map is a companion program alongside Project Shield, built through a collaboration with Arbor Networks. The concept is simple but has the potential to make a huge impact, as people can now see, in real time, where DDoS attacks are taking place, look at historical trends and see related news.


Finally, uProxy is probably the offering that will garner the most interest with the general public. Developed by Brave New Software and the University of Washington, uProxy was funded by Google.

A browser extension, uProxy lets people “provide each other with a trusted pathway on the web, helping protect an Internet connection from filtering, surveillance or misdirection,” says Google. In simple terms, the extension allows a user in a safe location to share his or her connection with a peer. The shared connection saves the person on the receiving end from having his or her activity tracked.

Google said it hopes it’s technology is just one step toward “helping those fighting for free expression around the globe.”


Megan Abraham is a staff writer for SiteProNews.