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New Free Expression Tools by Google Ideas to Help Fight Censorship Worldwide

For as long as people have had new ideas, others have stopped at nothing to try to silence them. Did you know that one out of every three people lives in a censored society? In the digital world, those looking to suppress speech can use filters to block pertinent content or even target attacks to take down websites. More than 70,000 URLs have been blocked in Thailand alone, and citizens risk 15 years in jail for criticizing the King online. Imagine how overpopulated our jails would be in the U.S. if being critical of the President were against the law? Worse, how does a society progress when its laws and leaders never come into question?

This week the Google Ideas think thank, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Gen Next Foundation, is hosting a summit in New York called “Conflict in a Connected World.”

Google Ideas: Conflict in a Connected World


“Attacks against the users, servers and infrastrucutre of the internet are increasing, the reality is the next generation of internet users is going to experience more turbulence, and we need to figure out how they can be protected,” said Vint Cerf, a founding father of the internet. In order to face these threats, “hacktivists,” web security experts, digital entrepreneurs, dissidents and others will convene on the changing landscape of conflict and online censorship.

The Google Ideas team is also looking to confront online censorship by launching several new interesting products and helpful initiatives:

Project Shield is an initiative that enables people to better protect websites against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that can quickly take a site offline. Google said, “We’re currently inviting webmasters serving independent news, human rights and elections-related content to apply to join our next round of trusted testers.”

 
Digital Attack Map is a live data visualization that maps DDoS attacks orchestrated to take down websites and block their content. The tool shows real-time anonymous traffic data related to these attacks and allows users to explore historic trends and see other potentially related outages across the world.

Digital Attack Map
 
uProxy is a new browser extension that allows friends to provide each other a trusted pathway for accessing the Web, protecting internet connections from filtering, surveillance or other misdirection. The tool was developed at the University of Washington in conjunction with Brave New Software and was seeded by Google Ideas.


 
Google on its mission:

Information technologies have transformed conflict in our connected world, and access to the free flow of information is increasingly critical. This week’s summit – as well as Shield, the Digital Attack Map and uProxy – are all steps we’re taking to help those fighting for free expression around the globe.”

   
 
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