Google to Help Users Detect Internet Filtering

Internet filtering of any kind is nothing new or shocking. That doesn't make it any less popular with the majority of users though. On Wednesday, Google disclosed a plan that will eventually allow the end user to detect filters on different traffic types.

According to Internet Service Providers, controlling the flow of certain traffic types is necessary to ensure adequate service for their customers. This reasoning doesn't go down too well with proponents of network neutrality. Google is backing a network diagnostic system called Measurement Lab which includes a series of tests aimed at detecting throttling of certain traffic types, as well as determining possible causes for poor connection speeds.

Currently, there are only three tests out of five available to run. One checks for throttling of BitTorrent traffic, another for problems that could be potentially limiting speeds, and a third which diagnoses problems with last-mile broadband networks. The currently unavailable services determine if the ISP is prioritizing some traffic above others and if the ISP is degrading network performance for certain users, locations or applications.

Google has provided researchers with three dedicated servers for data collection, and will increase that to 36 across 12 locations worldwide within six months. All data collected will be made publicly available. Most of the servers are overloaded or unavailable at the time of writing.

This announcement came shortly after Cox Communications announced plans to prioritise "time-sensitive" traffic, such as web browsing, email and gaming over traffic such as file uploads and peer-to-peer during times of network congestion.