Naming Project Galileo

by Kenneth R. Carter.

What’s in a Name

Earlier today, CloudFlare announced Project Galileo to protect free speech on the Web by using its sophisticated anti-DDoS resources. Seventeen (at last count) free speech, public interest, and civil society organizations are helping us identify at-risk, in-need websites for the Project. If one these websites comes under attack, CloudFlare will make sure that the website stays online.

You can read more about the story in the press in: ArsTechnica; Re/Code; Slate; TechCrunch; and The Verge.

Since we’ve launched, we keep getting asked why we called it “Project Galileo.”

Subversive Moons

In 1610, Galileo Galilei fashioned a homemade telescope and pointed it towards the heavens. He saw sights never witnessed before by human eyes: moons orbiting Jupiter, rings around Saturn, sunspots, craters on the moon, and phases of Venus.

These observations gave evidence for a dangerous truth—we are not the center of the universe, and the Earth revolves around the sun. Galileo published his discoveries in a book modestly entitled Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. As reward for his discoveries, Galileo was labeled a heretic and his book was banned until 1718. The Earth was to revolve around the sun 107 more times before Galileo’s discoveries would reach a wider audience.

Like Galileo, websites espousing politically sensitive—even heretical—speech are often victims of suppression. Like Galileo, most of these sites don’t have the resources to protect their discoveries from being suppressed.

“And yet it moves...”

How would history be different if Galileo’s book had been able to stay “online”? Would we have reached the moon in July 1861, not 1969?

If you would like to help Project Galileo as a public interest organization, identifying those websites most in need, please visit: www.projectgalileo.org. If you would like to be a participating website, we suggest you contact one of our partner organizations so they can recommend you.

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