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Fighting Internet Censorship

China is the first country to be mentioned when the issue of Internet censorship comes up. Recently, Russia made a strong move by approving a “sovereign internet” law by which its government can now redirect and censor the traffic anyway it wants, and so one day if you are inside Russia trying to access “facebook.com”, you could be redirected to “vk.com”, a Russian equivalence.

As Internet censorship jeopardizes the right of people to free speech and freedom of information online, attempts to evade such censorship have turned into a continually escalating race. New work led by University of Maryland computer scientists could help. Using genetic evolution algorithms, they developed an AI tool called Geneva to automatically learn how to circumvent censorship. The tool has been tested in China, India and Kazakhstan, Geneva with promising results. Geneva could find many ways around censorship which would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

“With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, senior author of the paper. “Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them.”

More development on this work is posted here.