Defending online news by playing hardball

As autocratic regimes, hackers, trouble-makers and fools aim to bring down websites that challenge authoritarian rule, such spaces need to be nurtured and protected. Reporters Without Borders on an important project:

Filtering, denial of service attacks, withdrawal of content – censors use many different methods to silence news websites. In addition to drawing attention to these acts of censorship and providing the victims with legal, material and financial help, Reporters Without Borders has now decided to provide them with technical assistance as well.

So that independent news websites that are targeted by cyber-attacks and government blocking can continue posting information online, Reporters Without Borders is going to start mirroring sites. The first sites to be mirrored are those of the Chechen magazine… Dosh… and the Sri Lankan online newspaperLanka-e News. We urge Internet users all over the world to create more mirrors of these sites in an act of solidarity.

If a cyber-attack renders… Doshdu.ru… inaccessible again, as… it was during last December’s parliamentary elections in Russia, Internet users will be able to access the exact copy created by Reporters Without Borders,… http://dosh.rsf.org. The mirror will be regularly and automatically updated.

Mirror sites can also be used to circumvent blocking by governments. For example, the Lanka-e-News site,… http://lankaenews.com, has been… blocked in Sri Lanka since October 2011… (by blocking the site domain name or the hosting server’s IP address), but Internet users in Sri Lanka will be able to access the Reporters Without Borders mirror site,… http://lankaenesw.rsf.org, which is hosted on another server with another domain name.

If the mirror is itself later also blocked, the creation of further mirror sites together with a regularly updated list of these mirrors will continue to render the blocking ineffective in a Streisand effect.

Reporters Without Borders will soon create other mirrors and urges Internet users who want to help combat censorship and have the ability to host a site on a web server to follow suit. A list of the mirror sites will be updated on this page. If you want to participate, send the URL of the mirror site you have created to wefightcensorship [at] rsf.org. We will add it to the list below. The next mirroring operations launched by Reporters Without Borders will be reported on the… @RSF_RWB… and… @RSFNet… Twitter accounts with the #RSFmirror hashtag.