Earlier today, we detailed Google’s Project Shield, one of three new “free expression tools” it has introduced. Alongside this is another called uProxy, which is a browser extension that essentially works as a peer-to-peer proxy between friends or mutual users who want more privacy or need to bypass country restrictions, such as a firewall.
Though Google has funded the proxy, it is being developed by the University of Washington, and is currently only open to a limited number of beta testers. For now, the extension is only developed for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, though the Internet giant says that other browsers and possibly mobile devices will be available at some point.
With the extension, one user can connect to the web through another user’s connection, something that is granted through an email invitation or through chat. Someone who is traveling, who is doing something sensitive in a public location, or similar can use the connection of someone they trust instead, helping to keep their data private and to access things otherwise unavailable.
Those who want to use the extension can sign up for the trusted tester program, which will eventually be extended to more users “in the coming months.” How long before the extension is available for public downloading and use hasn’t been specified. While the service does work as a VPN of sorts, it is important to note that it does not anonymize one’s Internet connection.