What is Uproxy and will it stop me filtering the web?
2 experts and 1 parent have answered
Uproxy is a new project developed by Google, the University of Washington and Brave New Software that can help people who are trapped behind restricted internet connections to access the open web by 'borrowing' an uncensored connection belonging to a trusted friend or other third party. The software takes the form of a browser add-on that can make a secure link to another copy of Uproxy running on another PC to create a simple Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Say you were in a country like China, with its Great Firewall locking down the sites you could access. The Uproxy add-on running in your web browser could connect to its counterpart on that of a friend or family member who lives in the UK, creating a 'hole' in the firewall through which you can look at whatever you want.
Of course, there is nothing to stop someone installing the Uproxy browser plugin to get around the kind of web filtering you might think is more benign. The proposed 'opt in' porn filter, for example, or protection you put on your home network yourself to prevent your children from accessing things they you think they shouldn't. All they need is a friend whose parents haven't implemented any filtering at home to install Uproxy too.
Uproxy hasn't launched yet, but when it does (check uproxy.org for more details) you may want to check to see if it has been installed on a PC in your home. There are some (rather fiddly) ways to prevent browser add-ons being installed for Firefox and Chrome but they could be worked around by a determined and knowledgeable child. As with any kind of web filtering, if you are worried about them accessing things they shouldn't then the best advice is to talk to your child and discuss their internet use rather than relying on technology.
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There are a whole series of free proxies out there, although some are more stable than others. What set this apart is that it has the Google badge on it. There is a cynical side to me which thinks that this is a bit of face saving going on and I can see genuine use for it, however in most cases you use a free proxie to get around blocks for torrent sites etc. Or of course if you are really worried about your personal browsing, you will do all your surfing through a proxy. For me the challenge will be how this deals with Java and script heavy sites as usually they are stripped out be these of sites.
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Uproxy is another twist on proxy technologies used to get around web filters, that have been around about as long as there have been web filters. It won't stop web filtering if you have the right web filtering technologies; because it won't work at all. And with the best solutions, children will be far less likely to seek out methods to avoid the filtering in the first place.
NB all the best solutions have a duck.