Google Awards Georgia Tech $1 Million to Create More Internet Transparency, Minimize Censorship

By Beecher Tuttle March 23, 2011

Clearly frustrated with the recent episodes in Egypt and Libya, Google is fighting back against government-inspired Internet censorship. On Tuesday, the search engine giant awarded a $1 million research grant to Georgia Tech to create a more "transparent" global Web experience.

The Atlanta-based institution will receive the two-year unrestricted Google Research Focused Award with a third-year option for an additional $500,000 if the company believes that more work needs to be done.

Specifically, the team of researchers will work to build a suite of "Web-based, Internet-scale measurement tools" that will enable users from across the globe to identify whether their Web data is being corrupted by governments or Internet service providers. The free set of tools should also allow users to find out if their ISP is providing the level of service that they are paying for.

Wenke Lee, a professor in the School of Computer Science and a principal investigator for the research, said that the project is designed to enable a more "transparency ecosystem."

"For example, say something happens again like what happened in Egypt recently, when the Internet was essentially shut down," Lee said. "If we have a community of Internet user-participants in that country, we will know instantly when a government or ISP starts to block traffic, tamper with search results, even alter web-based information in order to spread propaganda."

The grant is not just to keep governments from tampering with or shutting down the Internet, however. Lee and colleagues will use the grant to analyze the performance of user networks and compare them to the performance that was originally pledged by the ISP. The researchers will also evaluate the "reachability" of the Internet from various access networks as well as the integrity of the data that travels along them.

Fellow principal investigator Nick Feamster said the team will be looking at both traditional and cellular-based Web connections.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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