DDoS mitigation on a network of principles and openness

Yesterday saw the public launch of Project Galileo, a CloudFlare initiative that partners with reputable international advocacy and civil society organizations to offer free DDoS mitigation services to human rights and independent media groups. As with our support for Google’s Project Shield last year, we welcome all attempts to bring DDoS mitigation to a wider audience of at-risk users around the world and would like to take this opportunity to encourage serious consideration of the ethical and operational standards as followed by eQualitie and our peers. There are both moral and technical obligations that we feel bound by in this industry, from combating hate speech to respecting our client’s privacy.

To this end, eQualit.ie is today putting forward a set of principles which we hope will receive the support of commercial and non-profit providers alike, as well as any partner organizations endorsing these services. Websites signing on for Internet hosting and content distribution services should have a sound understanding of how their providers operate and what motivates each of us to do this work. We strongly agree with CloudFlare’s stated aims:

…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.

However, we would add that to engage in activism you have to take a stand and you have to pick sides. By standing firmly against censorship, we cannot also protect groups which would misuse our network for political censorship or as a launchpad for the very same attacks we are trying to stop. Equally, we cannot accept websites which propagate hate speech and advocate for the disenfranchisement or even outright destruction of their adversaries. Such malicious actors are welcome to find a solution elsewhere but it is not accepted practice within our corner of the digital security field to defend rights defenders and rights deniers at the same time. There is no way for us to reconcile protecting both an LGBT site and an anti-LGBT site on our network without, at the very least, disrespecting the values of the former and enabling the latter.

For this reason we ask every organization entering this field to consider the harm done in protecting all sides which operate within a given conflict. To make no choice at all about who your customers are serves only to perpetuate each conflict, breed mistrust among activists and journalists involved and undermine our common aims.

That CloudFlare has chosen to join the fight against censorship-by-DDoS is a huge benefit to groups on the frontline who struggle every day to keep their voices heard. We see our partners face enormous financial, legal, political and personal risks by speaking out for what they believe is right and we understand it is our shared responsibility as protectors of their websites to perform our small part in their work without any ambiguity of operation and purpose.

Signed

The Deflect team

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