Google Ideas, a division of Google, will be adding to browsers a button called uProxy that will allow Americans to provide their trusted friends in restrictive countries such as Iran and Syria a secure connection that bypasses the digital censorship and monitoring by the governments of those countries, according to NBC News. The tool was revealed this week at a conference called “Conflict in a Connected World.”
Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, told Time magazine, "If you look at existing proxy tools today, as soon as they’re effective for dissidents, the government finds out about them and either blocks them or infiltrates them.” He added, “Every dissident we know in every repressive society has friends outside the country whom they know and trust. What if those trusted friends could unblock the access in those repressive societies by sharing their own access? That was the problem we tried to solve.”
“These are going to be useful additions to the activist toolkit,” said Philip Howard, who teaches at the University of Washington and has written on how social media can contribute to political change. “Authoritarian governments have started figuring out how to use social media to spy on activists and control political conversation.”
Iran keeps a close eye on whatever information goes in and out of the country. China, on the other hand, blocks every piece of information that has the words “democracy” and “human rights” in it. During their revolts, the governments of Egypt and Tunisia monitored the Internet.
In June, Turkey started to censor Twitter, saying Twitter was spreading false information about the government and frightening the society.
uProxy gives a cover to the rebels. Using the tool they can create a safe connection with someone who is in another part of the world -- a person they can trust in a free-Internet country -- write and read online without having the fear of being censored or monitored.
In China, there is already a tool called the Great Firewall, which is used by citizens to bypass the existing restriction on most of the Western Internet, including social media sites.
Google uProxy has been labeled by the company as a safer path to the Internet.
Google executive David Drummond said that the tool was created around the belief that access to information is a social good.