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Google creates a tool to circumvent Internet censorship imposed by totalitarian governments

Google creates a tool to circumvent Internet censorship imposed by totalitarian governments

Google is launching new anti-censorship technology created in response to the actions of the Iranian government This was done during the 2022 protests there, in the hope that it would lead to increased access for internet users living under authoritarian regimes around the world, the trade magazine reported. MIT Technology Review.

Jigsaw, a unit of Google that acts as a kind of research center On Internet freedom and the creation of related products, it already offers a set of anti-censorship tools Which includes outlines. This VPN (virtual network that creates a private connection between devices over the Internet) provides free, open and encrypted access to the Internet. Additionally, it uses a protocol that makes it difficult to detect, so users can surf the web largely out of sight of authorities who want to block Internet access.

During the pro-democracy protests that erupted last year across Iran, that country’s regime used sophisticated tactics, not only intermittently blocking internet access but also attacking VPNs.

Now Jigsaw is releasing the code Detailed outline in the form of a Software Development Kit (SDK) so other applications can build censorship resistance The company said it directly in its products MIT Technology Review. This will create a simpler and more streamlined user experience. For example, users of the application running this code (such as a news site, for example) do not need to connect to the Internet separately through a VPN. At the same time, Google hopes to put users one step ahead of censorship.

On September 19, 2022, the Iranian government began cutting off mobile internet service in Tehran during protests against the assassination of Mahsa Amini days earlier. As Iranians began looking for alternative ways to access WhatsApp, Instagram, and the rest of the websites, many turned to VPNs, such as Outline, which can divert traffic away from the affected area through something like a virtual tunnel. The number of daily Outline VPN users on Android increased by a whopping 1,500% in Iran during the fall of 2022. According to Jigsaw’s lead architect of internet freedom, Vinicius Fortuna.

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But at the same time, the Iranian government has also sometimes blocked access to Outline and VPN-based applications. The Jigsaw team then had to respond by quickly publishing a new article Open source code that can bypass the ban and restore Internet access.

This was a challenge for Jigsaw, as well as for applications based on Outline, which then had to recode their own products to adapt to the changes. Martin Chu, engineering director of one such app, nthLink, which also helps users bypass censorship, said: This process can take up to a few weeks, while users remain in the dark.

Governments are shutting down the internet to silence dissidents at an “exponential” rate and threatening civil society, the COO of Google’s Jigsaw Project said. While the idea has been floating around for several years, Outline’s new software development kit (SDK) is a direct response to the obstacles Iran faces.

The SDK will make it easier for developers from different companies to work on the same code and allow them to run updates more efficiently. This will allow for faster responses to evolving censorship tactics.

This simplicity is also crucial because the Iranian government created its own limited version of the Internet and provides access to it at cheaper rates to businesses and households. It also forced telecommunications companies to give up direct access to their networks and users’ information.