June 16, 2014

Groundbreaking new tool aims to protect online journalists

Posted: June 16, 2014

Online freedom of speech is getting some extra help this week from a company called CloudFlare, which helps websites stay online when they are hit with "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attacks that overload servers with requests for information, rendering them basically unreachable.

CloudFlare has announced "Project Galileo," an initiative that aims to protect journalists, nonprofit and small for-profit sites from DDoS attacks by extortionists and vandals, as well as repressive governments and political adversaries. Dan Gillmor, a professor of practice at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, praised CloudFlare and Project Galileo last week in a Future Tense article for Slate magazine.

But, Gillmor asks, who will decide which sites are deserving of Galileo's protection? CloudFlare's partners include an assortment of organizations dedicated to keeping the Internet open and protecting free speech, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Free Press, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute and others. As generic examples of the kinds of sites it wants to help protect, CloudFlare included "minority rights organizations, LGBT rights organizations in Africa or the Middle East, global citizen journalism sites and independent media outlets in the developing world."

The protection offered by Project Galileo will help insulate journalists from groups that use DDoS attacks as a means of censorship or blackmail, according to Sanjana Hattotuwa, one of Gillmor's interviewees and a founder and senior researcher at Groundviews, an independent journalism outlet in Sri Lanka.

To learn more about DDoS attacks, Project Galileo and other similar efforts to protect websites from disruption and interference, read the full article at Future Tense.

Future Tense is a collaboration among ASU, the New America Foundation and Slate magazine that explores how emerging technologies affect policy and society.

Article source:
Slate magazine


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Joey Eschrich, jpe@asu.edu
Center for Science and the Imagination