Google unveils services promoting free expression

Reuters

By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Google Inc willbegin to shield news organizations and human rights groups fromcyberattacks as part of a new package of services designed tosupport "free expression" on the Web, the internet giant saidMonday.

At a presentation in New York, the company also unveiled anew technology called uProxy that allows citizens under someregimes to bypass government censorship or surveillance softwareto surf the Web. The software will be available for Google'sChrome browser and Firefox but not for rival Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer, at least initially.

The world's No. 1 search engine presented the two services -as well as a new map that highlights cyberattacks taking placearound the world in real time - as some of the most significantsoftware products to emerge from Google Ideas, a think-tankestablished by the company in 2010.

Known for its "Don't Be Evil" corporate motto, Google has awell-established reputation for resisting authorities around theworld who seek to censor its Web properties, including YouTubeand Blogger.

But the formation of the Ideas group, which the companyadvertises as a "think/do tank" headed by Jared Cohen, a formerU.S. State Department official, has raised the possibility ofthe company playing a more active role in furthering U.S.policy.

Under its "Project Shield" initiative, Google said it wouldhost sites that frequently came under politically-motivateddistributed denial-of-service attacks. Because of the size andsophistication of its technical infrastructure, Google is farmore able to withstand such attacks compared to websites hostedindependently.

The product remains in testing, Google said. A promotionalvideo made by Google featured an endorsement from Balatarin, apopular Persian-language news website that has already testedthe digital shield program. Google has also worked to protect anelection monitoring website in Kenya, according to Forbes.

The uProxy software, funded by Google but developed by theUniversity of Washington and nonprofit group Brave New Software,will allow users in countries like China to access the Internetas it is seen by a friend in a different, uncensored country.

The software creates an encrypted connection between twousers in a way that resembles a virtual private network - amethod that savvy Chinese netizens currently use to circumventthe government's Great Firewall, which blocks many social mediasites.

Google said uProxy also remained in testing.

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