GoGuardian Uses the Same Technology as Putin


Soulee Heller, Staff Writer

What are DPI’s and How Are They Related?

DPI stands for deep packet inspection and it is used by both GoGuardian and the Kremlin (the Russian government) to do completely different things. A DPI is simply a method of examining and managing network traffic. They allow an outsider to filter Internet traffic and also gives that outsider a way to penetrate into the content and effectively conduct surveillance. It does this by identifying and blocking data with some identifier that marks it to be censored. Previous filtering worked in a way that’s like looking at the envelope of a letter without seeing what’s inside. Deep packet inspection looks at the contents of the envelope to see if it passes certain criteria determined by the network manager. In our case, the network manager would be the school. For Russia, it would be the government.

Putin’s History With the Internet

Putin first became president in 2000 and remained until 2012. After that, a man named Dmitry Medvedev was president for 4 years. He was well liked by the Russian people and they wanted him to remain for another term. However, one day Putin announced to thousands of people that he would be running for president, not Medvedev. This essentially secured Putin as the next president. A small organization set up a tracker to visualize the data of the election, and it was plaster all over the Russian Internet. Authorities were not happy because this could expose the fraud in their elections. And it did just that. The anger of the people grew as people took to the streets. Protests were organized on online forums and advertised on websites. Updates about the rallies were posted live on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone could know what was happening everywhere all the time, and that’s exactly why Putin needed to stop it. It is extremely hard to control a populace that is constantly informed about what you do. On May 12, 2012, Vladimir Putin became president once again and will continue to be until 2024. 

On June 7th, 2012, legislation was introduced in Russia to begin a nationwide system of filtering the Internet, blacklisting specific pages. Protests against the blacklist started not long after, but on July 28th Putin signed the legislation into law. This put strict boundaries on protests. To implement this blacklist the State Duma met with some of the top websites in Russia. The companies complained that they didn’t want whole websites blocked because that would make them obsolete if they were to be added to the blacklist. Instead, they wanted to look into blocking pages, and found that their only choice was to use deep-packet inspection or DPI. DPI’s would allow Russian authorities to surveil it’s citizens and they jumped at it.

How Does GoGuardian Fit In With All of This?

GoGuardian uses something called Next-generation firewalls to manage networks. It monitors incoming and outgoing traffic, but can also focus on individual applications. A feature of next-generation firewalls is inline deep-packet inspection (DPI), the same technology the Kremlin uses to watch their citizens. 

It is no surprise that GoGuardian gives your teacher the ability to see your screen, monitor what you’re doing, and close tabs they feel are unnecessary to your work. However, their goal is not to spy on you and constantly look at what you’re doing online. All they want to do is make sure you’re doing your work. 

This should be a look at how the same technology can be used in entirely different ways by entirely different people. Look at the GoGuardian company. Their main goal is to create a safe and engaging digital learning environments for schools. They pledged to never sell student information which means it’s essentially a VPN for an entire district. They block Youtube and website ads. They created a program which gives money to teachers who may spend some of their own paycheck on stocking their classroom and giving to their students. They created mental health tools that identify when a student is struggling. The entire software was designed in consultation with mental health experts to help with self harm and suicide prevention. Then look at The Kremlin. A dictatorship whose only goal is to control its citizens. This could be through censorship or coming up with completely false information that paints them in a good light. Currently invading another country to try to take over. Technology by itself is not a good or bad thing; it’s what people do with it.


Works Cited