Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More on how Google's support for M-Lab is a big deal for transparency

In support of Google's own words in launching Measurement Lab:
At Google, we care deeply about sustaining the Internet as an open platform for consumer choice and innovation. No matter your views on net neutrality and ISP network management practices, everyone can agree that Internet users deserve to be well-informed about what they're getting when they sign up for broadband, and good data is the bedrock of sound policy. Transparency has always been crucial to the success of the Internet, and, by advancing network research in this area, M-Lab aims to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.
...a few select quotes from around the web commenting on the power of transparency:
"For years, ISPs have been notoriously shady about what they're throttling or blocking. The industry needs a healthy dose of transparency. Right now, we're just a bunch of pissed-off users complaining about our Skype calls getting dropped and our YouTube videos sputtering to a halt. But when it comes to placing blame, most of us are in the dark."

"M-Lab aims to bring more transparency to network activity by allowing researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools and share data. The platform launched Wednesday with three Google servers dedicated to the project, and within six months, Google will provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations around the globe. All the data collected will be made publicly available."

"A number of ISPs have lately started to clamp down on peer-to-peer networks and are actively restricting heavy usage of 'unlimited' connections. For users, however, there is very little transparency in this process and it can be very hard to figure out if an ISP is actually actively throttling a connection or preventing certain applications from working properly. In reaction to this, Google, together with the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute and the PlanetLab Consortium announced the Measurement Lab, an open platform for researchers and a set of tools for users that can be used to examine the state of your broadband connection."

This looks like an initiative at least partly created to deal with net neutrality issues, by providing more transparency to users. This seems to be in Google’s political interest; it would be interesting to see the same transparency be provided with issues like Google’s censorship in countries like China or Germany. Say, a Measurement Lab tool that registers which domains are censored in, collecting those into a public database for research purposes.

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