Monday, August 17, 2009

Giving a voice to "digital refugees"



For the past year, citizens of Georgia, a country located in Eastern Europe, have struggled to express themselves freely online. While engaged in military conflicts, Georgians have simultaneously experienced a series of Internet service disruptions. And as a result, Georgians are periodically unable to get online and access certain websites -- blogging platforms in particular. These Internet service disruptions were compounded by a Denial of Service attack -- an attempt to completely cut off Internet access in Georgia -- this month.

Evgeny Morozov from the Open Society Institute has been following Georgian Blogger CYXYMU for some time now, chronicling how he's migrated from one blogging platform to the next in hopes of getting his message out after each blog is shut down by cyber opponents. Sparking interesting discussions around the concept of "digital refugees," CYXYMU's plight has recently become a hot topic in the blogosphere.

Morozov notes in his blog post that there may be many other bloggers facing situations similar to that of CYXYMU whose stories haven't been told. It's becoming easier to attack stand-alone blogs and websites, and much like political refugees, these bloggers and their sites are targeted and forced to relocate or be silenced. Consequently, bloggers are fleeing to higher profile sites like Twitter (and Blogger, among others) in order to continue exercising their right to free expression.

As censorship techniques and online attacks become more pervasive, it's clear that fundamental Internet freedoms are at stake. In the case of CYXYMU, entire services were knocked offline in order for one user to be silenced. This goes to show how far suppressive groups will go in order to impede on free speech.

Google collaborated with the other targeted services -- LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook -- to help identify the origins of the attacks and minimize their impact. While Blogger was able to withstand the attack this time around, we hope that governments and companies will recognize the threats to free expression that exist today and will work together to ensure that the Internet continues to provide many safe havens for dissidents.

16 comments:

Alex VanScoy said...

Stand strong, Google. Glad to see you are supporting free speech around the world.

Sylvia said...

Good for you, Google & Blogger! The internet stands for nothing if not freedom of expression. We must stick together on this.

Rahul Choudhary said...

The bigger question is "How to stop these attacks?". Smaller hosting platform neither have the technology and nor power to withstand ddos. Moreover the requests coming from different zombies whose owner doesn't even know that there computer has been used at all.
Can google share their knowledge and resources with others to make them strong enough to withhold resistance in these scenarios?

Darnell said...

Love the stance... And I love that the Internet and Google are enabling international free speech. Anything technology can do to enable citizens under oppressive rule to get their voices heard by the world is a huge step in the right direction.

MrBrownThumb said...

All I want to say is, thank you.

Carter said...

google i really want to work for you

crawl said...

the best first sentence in the article about Georgia ever: "...citizens of Georgia, a country located in Eastern Europe..."!

Electronic media is a new weapon and Internet is the battleground. Last time Georgia won the media battle, but this time around normal warfare tactics kicked-in and they got covered by preventive artillery fire.

FPrioleau said...

Thank you for being who and what you are. Keep the internet free from the suppressors of freedom

Richard Frisch said...

"Georgia, a country located in Eastern Europe..." Georgia looks like it is located in Western Asia not Europe. Take a look at Google Maps http://bit.ly/vE6hB and you will see it just is not Europe, unless Iraq and Iran are also in Europe.

Karri said...

Darnell said:
"I love that the Internet and Google are enabling international free speech."

Google "enabling free speech"? Like it does in China?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_China#Controversy

Dustin said...

To bad google could not take the same stand when it came to China

Darnell said...

I don't disagree with Google's stance on whether to be censored in China or to deny some search results with a verbose warning.

Though it does make it tougher to get to specific pieces of information within China, it's better that the Chinese people have advanced search technologies available to them with some results being censored than for those technologies to be banned completely.

And, the issue I see in this case is that some online services are banning specific users who bring their enemies with them to the online services they utilize. If Google is helping to ensure these individuals can get their word out rather than backing down for the sake of avoiding a DoS attack, I applaud them and any other services which follow suit.

Alexc3 said...

It's stuff like this that makes me proud to be a Google user. =)

cyxymu said...

Thanks to all for support!

SidCool said...

Hail Google!!!

SexySEO said...

cyxymu? "digital refugee"?! REALLY? ROFL Much ado about nothing. YAWN.
PS Rick, dear, I just wonder do you know what DDoS actually is?