People to People: Google’s Vision for a Free and Open Global Community

The People to People program was founded during the Cold War with the philosophy that the best way to promote peace was to engender personal connections between individuals from different countries. Today, Google is using the same philosophy to end human rights abuse. Instead of personal connections between citizens, Google is uniting people in different countries to exchange Internet connections.

The United Nations declared the right to a free and open Internet a basic human right in 2011. Unfortunately, repressive governments around the world refuse to respect this right by blocking their citizens from accessing or creating content that challenges the government’s version of reality.

Google has come up with a solution, uProxy. According to NBC, uProxy is a button for browsers that allows users in countries with unrestricted internet access to provide friends in repressive regimes a secure internet connection to access content. It’s People to People for the digital age.

The technology works based on a relationship of trust between individuals from different countries and cultures. The tool provides a “disguise” for activists and dissidents. Users can browse content and post without surveillance because they are using a network they are allowed access to through a consenting proxy.

During the Cold War, activists would often smuggle books, essays, and music out of the Soviet Union so that the words of dissidents could be heard in the West. Similarly, uProxy serves as a weapon against repression.

Senior Vice President David Drummond would most likely agree with the UN’s designation of Internet access as a basic human right. When discussing the impetus behind uProxy, he said, “Google was founded on the belief that access to information is a social good. More information in more hands means more education, more economic opportunity, more accountability.”

What do you think about uProxy? Will it work? What are other ways technology is hurting totalitarian regimes?

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