Ars Technica reports Google has given a $1 million grant to a team at Georgia Tech in order to build tools to help users around the world monitor the internet for free.
The goal is to build web-based tools any user can use that enables them to detect Internet throttling, government censorship, and other transparency problems. It will let users verify that their ISPs are delivering the upload and download speeds they were promised. It will let users learn if their governments are blocking or modifying the Internet without their knowledge. It will basically help users know if they are being cheated from the raw internet.
Google may increase the $1 million grant by an additional $500,000 extension if the team needs another year of development time and if Google likes the path the team is going.
Georgia Tech told Ars Technica the tool will provide “a suite of Web-based, Internet-scale measurement tools that any user around the world could access for free. With the help of these tools, users could determine whether their ISPs are providing the kind of service customers are paying for, and whether the data they send and receive over their network connections is being tampered with by governments and/or ISPs.”
Wenke Lee, a computer science professor at the school gave an example of how the tool will help. He said, “say something happens again like what happened in Egypt recently, when the Internet was essentially shut down. 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.”