Internet

Google Launches Tools For Evading Government Control

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With the Internet playing an ever-greater role in disseminating information and connecting political opponents of authoritarian regimes, governments with a taste for deterring the same are stepping up surveillance, efforts to control access to inconvenient facts and opinions, and attacks on the Web presence of the opposition. As we all know, even officials in the land of the free have a taste for online snoopiness. So what an appropriate moment for Internet giant Google to step forward with new tools intended to help online users escape surveillance and control, and to deliver their messages even when under cyberattack by the authorities.

On its official blog, Google announced the launch of Project Shield, to help protect websites from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, the Digital Attack Map, which tracks DDoS attcks in realtime, so they can be exposed as they happen, and uProxy, a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that works like an easily shared personalized virtual private network (VPN) to allow people living under controlling regimes to surf the Web via connections to users elsewhere, evading censorship and surveillance.

Google describes the services as:

  • Project Shield is an initiative that enables people to use Google's technology to better protect websites that might otherwise have been taken offline by "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attacks. We're currently inviting webmasters serving independent news, human rights, and elections-related content to apply to join our next round of trusted testers.
  • The Digital Attack Map is a live data visualization, built through a collaboration between Arbor Networks and Google Ideas, that maps DDoS attacks designed to take down websites—and their content—around the globe. This tool shows real-time anonymous traffic data related to these attacks on free speech, and also lets people explore historic trends and see related news reports of outages happening on a given day.
  • uProxy is a new browser extension under development that lets friends provide each other with a trusted pathway to the web, helping protect an Internet connection from filtering, surveillance or misdirection. The University of Washington and Brave New Software developed the tool, which was seeded by Google Ideas. To learn more about the challenges uProxy aims to address, watch our video.

Given the criticism that Google has come under for collaborating with the NSA and other elements of the U.S. government to allow access to users' data, it's good to see them doing something for the good guys.

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  1. Based on your corporate access policies, this web site ( http://digitalattackmap.com/embed ) has been blocked because it has been determined by Web Reputation Filters to be a security threat to your computer or the corporate network. This web site has been associated with malware/spyware.

    THANKS FOR SPREADING THE MALWARE, REASON! Thank God my company’s PC condom was there, protecting us!

    Also, fuck Google.

    1. Yeah I got the same thing…

  2. There’s definitely a market for easy and anonymous internet that Google is trying to capture. But given that they’re still in bed with the Feds, or at least open to the 2am booty call, I say fuck off.

  3. Good for Google. Now, if they’d only grow a pair and publish the metadata of the NSA’s spying requests to them on their home page. What’s the government going to do, arrest Google? If the NSA has nothing to hide, why are they worried about us seeing their metadata?

    1. Silly man. What can the government do to a business to get them to comply? Think about that one again.

    2. The DOJ and FTC will antitrust them into oblivion.

      1. And look like China? The DOJ would shit bricks if Google threatened to pull out of the US and base their US search in Hong Kong. Now Google give up free fed $ for spying — that’s the teat they won’t piss off.

        1. That’s what I’m saying. You’re freakin’ Google. Act like it, and stand up to the bullies.

          Easy for me to say though, I won’t be arrested for treason, as Yahoo’s CEO said she would be if she didn’t comply.

        2. Not China – they’d move to Singapore!

    3. They could always have an ‘insider attack’ where some ‘anonymous’ employee manages to get access to those documents and ‘sneak’ them out and turn them over to the press.

  4. I suspect Google was a lot more reluctant to cross the NSA back when more Americans were more afraid of terrorism. Now that fewer Americans are afraid, I’d love to see Google stand up to the NSA.

    Until then, it’s “Don’t be evil”, my ass.

    1. They’re the ACME to evil’s Wile E. Coyote. They don’t promote evil, they just don’t prevent it, and sometimes actively collaborate with it.

  5. So what an appropriate moment

    Indeed. What an appropriate moment to lessen the damage to Google’s reputation, as well as dulling concern over government snooping.

    Given the criticism that Google has come under for collaborating with the NSA and other elements of the U.S. government to allow access to users’ data, it’s good to see them doing something for the good guys.

    Given that Google HAS been collaborating with the NSA to violate our privacy, how can anyone trust programs from that company to protect our privacy?

    I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the government had access to the info being “protected” by these programs.

    1. uProxy routes your connection through the computer of a friend or colleague. It has little to offer in terms of “our” privacy; it is presumably aimed at activists in Syria, Iran, Belarus, etc who have much more to worry about than the NSA.

  6. All the bitching about Google “collaborating” with the NSA is getting really old. I’m sure everyone here would gladly spend a decade or two in federal prison, lose their career, and tear apart their family if the feds came knocking on their door.

    Google’s business model — targeted advertising — means they suck up as much data on you as possible, which makes them a good target for intelligence agencies. If that concerns you, either make efforts to anonymize yourself while using Google’s products or switch to DuckDuckGo.

    But DDG sucks, you say? I agree. But TANSTAAFL, as well all know.

    1. Exactly, what is Google supposed to do when they have a figurative gun pointed at their head? They’re being shaken down just like the rest of us.

      1. Comply with the court orders, don’t volunteer any info or any help to the feds, but post the metadata of the NSA requests on google.com. If the NSA has nothing to hide, why are they afraid if we know their metadata?

        1. From the reference in this article:

          “In addition, the Wall Street Journal stated that the NSA’s general counsel had drafted a “cooperative research and development agreement” within 24 hours of Google’s announcement of the attack, which authorized the Agency to “examine some of the data related to the intrusion into Google’s systems.”

          Is this the same type of “cooperation” that leads me to pay my taxes to the Fed gov? And do you really think that the NSA would allow google to post their metadata requests? Come on, get real. The NSA is the thug here, not Google.

      2. But Google has so much more resources than the poor downtrodden government!

        -Kathleen Sebelius

    2. DDG is like the Libertarian party – it sucks so no one uses it and it will keep sucking as long as no-one uses it.

      Its actually my default search engine now but I do find I still need to use Google a lot.

    3. Eric Schmidt is a big contributor to Obama, and shared Google technology with the NSA and Obama’s fundraising.

      What he’s doing now, is just making false genuflections to online privacy, to restore Google’s reputation.

      A denial of service attack doesn’t affect digital privacy! It only affects the ability to make your webserver available to customers. Contrary to the headline, this does not provide any capability to “Evade Government Control.”

  7. Attackmap is currently opening tab upon tab in my Chrome each time telling me to upgrade my browser to Chrome.

    1. Well – I guess the old IE ain’t looking so bad now after all.

      The map works fine for me – it just doesn’t provide any useable (comprehensible) info.

  8. Lets roll with it one time now. Wow.

    http://www.AnonWonders.tk

  9. SO if these are like any other Google projects they’ll have a barely usable UI hiding some incredible feature then either abandon the project once it proved feasible or drag it on for a prolonged multi-year and bug prone beta program.

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