Alphabet is quietly fighting attacks on free speech through its Jigsaw incubator

Jigsaw has six projects it's currently working on to help activists and journalists protect their freedom of speech. They include technology to prevent hacking and to detect disinformation campaigns.

Jigsaw

Jigsaw, formerly known as Google Ideas, and previously under the purview of Google, is an incubator within Alphabet that builds technology to tackle some of the toughest global security challenges facing the world today. The majority of Jigsaw’s current projects are focused on addressing threats to free speech and protecting journalists.

Dan Keyserling, COO of Jigsaw, says it’s more important than ever that [they] build things that can help journalists and platforms detect when media has been manipulated. Keyserling and the Jigsaw team are hoping these projects will play in a part in doing just that.

6 Jigsaw projects that are enabling free speech

Project Shield

Google has met with news organizations around the world who suffer crippling digital attacks when they publish something controversial or that questions powerful institutions. Project Shield uses Google’s infrastructure to protect independent news sites from distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), a type of digital attack that exploits thousands or even millions of computers to overwhelm a website’s servers and take it offline.

Password Alert

For the activists that Google has met with, they’ve learned that having their password stolen can be devastating. Password Alert is a Chrome extension that alerts you if a website is trying to steal your password. For most of us, stolen passwords can be a nuisance or result in the theft of sensitive information, but for journalists and activists who work in sensitive environments, the consequences can be far more severe.

Digital Attack Map

One of the easiest ways to silence someone online is a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). But it’s difficult to solve a problem you can’t see. Digital Attack Map visualizes the most powerful DDoS attacks happening in the world right now, using data from our partner Arbor Networks. DDoS attacks sometimes relate directly to events in the real world such as conflicts or political disputes.

Unfiltered.News

One of the greatest threats to free expression is censorship you can’t see. Unfiltered.News maps what important news stories might not be covered in your country, using the Google News corpus to allow internet users to discover which stories are being covered in certain locations, how different countries cover stories differently, and how issue coverage changes over time.

Outline

Journalists need safe access to information to research issues, communicate with sources, and report the news. Outline makes it easy for news organizations to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on their own server. This gives news organizations the power to provide anyone in their organization safer access to the internet and keep their communications private.

Intra

DNS manipulation is one of the most common forms of online censorship, used to block access to news sites, information portals, social media platforms and communication apps. Intra is an Android app that protects against DNS manipulation, making it easy to access blocked websites and apps and get safer access to the internet.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw