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Protecting Free Expression Online

by Matthew Prince.

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a troubling trend: an increasing number of politically or artistically important sites targeted by very large denial of service attacks. Often these attacks appear politically motivated — going after, for instance, citizen journalists reporting on government corruption. The promise of the Internet is that it is a great leveler — that anyone with an idea can reach a global audience. These attacks threaten that promise.

CloudFlare’s mission is to build a better Internet. Fundamental to that is ensuring that bullies cannot use attacks to censor content simply because they disagree with it. We knew we needed to do something to stop this troubling trend. To that end, today we’re announcing Project Galileo.

Project Galileo’s goal is to protect free expression online. Sites can participate in Project Galileo if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are engaged in news gathering, civil society, or political/artistic speech;
  • They are subject to online attacks related to their news gathering, civil society, or political/artistic speech;
  • They are not-for-profit organizations or small commercial entities; and
  • They act in the public interest, broadly defined.

For sites that meet these criteria, CloudFlare will extend its full, enterprise-class DDoS attack protection at no cost.

Working with Civil Society to Remain Neutral

As we invite sites into Project Galileo, it is important that we remain content neutral. We believe that CloudFlare should never decide, based on their content, what sites deserve protection. We’re very good at technology, but deciding what content is politically or artistically important is above our pay grade. As such, we’ve partnered with a number of civil society organizations to identify at-risk sites that qualify for Project Galileo. Our launch referring partners include:

These organizations now have access to a sort of “bat phone.” If they are aware of a current CloudFlare customer that qualifies for Project Galileo, or a qualified site that is under attack and needs CloudFlare’s services, they have access to a hotline to enable our full DDoS attack protection.

If you have a site you believe qualifies for Project Galileo, you can contact one of our partner organizations to request to be included. If you don’t already have a relationship with one of our partner organizations, contact us and we’ll steer you in the right direction. Over time, we will continue to expand Project Galileo’s list of partner organizations. It’s important to us that the organizations that can refer sites span the political and artistic spectrum. If you’re an organization that would like to be listed as a partner, you can contact us using the form on the Project Galileo website.

Ensuring Freedom of Expression

For the last several weeks we’ve been quietly enrolling sites in Project Galileo. While, for obvious reasons, we will never publish a list of the sites we’re shielding, we’re proud of some of the voices of free expression we’ve helped protect. They include organizations advocating for LGBT rights in the Middle East, tracking political corruption in Sri Lanka, monitoring deforestation in Malaysia, exposing bribery across Africa, and reporting on the civil war in Syria. CloudFlare is helping ensure these voices will never be silenced.

When Michelle, Lee and I started CloudFlare we said that our goal was to bring the resources that were previously available only to the Internet’s giants to everyone online. I’m proud that today we took another step toward that goal.

Learn more: www.projectgalileo.org

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