Globally, there are a number of countries where access to the internet is heavily monitored, and in many cases restricted to a network completely controlled by the leading regime. When you are speaking of a country where there is civil unrest, such as Syria, that lockdown becomes all the more problematic. Word of personal experience and communication becomes limited in a time where it is needed the most.
Human rights activists and those fighting off the often brutal policies of such regimes suffer the most. The message they have is choked off, and it is difficult to pass information from one source to another. Much less give others who rely on media reports a first person perspective into the conflict.
Google is looking to change this. They will be discussing three tools as part of the New York based Conflict in a Connected World Summit.
The first will be uProxy, a proxy hosted within the US, where members of the public here could allow unfiltered access to people in other countries. It is encrypted, so the government will be unable to access, exploit or monitor communications and browsing using this method. It was developed by groups at the University of Washington, in cooperation with Brave New Software.
Second will be Project Shield. It is a security software that protects against DDOS (Denial of Service) attacks that overburden a server and take down websites. As a common tactic both from official agencies and independently run attacks, their priority is to add an extra layer of protection against these assaults.
The last is Digital Attack Map, which runs alongside Project Shield. It offers a digital, visual representation of DDOS attacks around the world, all over the web. Google hopes that with the data and history so immediately apparent, patterns will emerge and show the correlation between attacks and freedom of speech, among other applications.
While it would be prudent to point out that Google has its own privacy violations to consider, and that they have been cooperative with harsh and restrictive regimes in the past, this can only be a good move. It may also show a change in focus for the technology giant. It is sure to make plenty of governments angry, that is for sure.
Source: Google Blog