Defending from cyber attacks: Project Shield also protects democracy
The freedom of information is one of the most sacred and revered foundations of a working democracy. People who can access data that impacts their lives are free to make informed decisions. They can also hold into account organizations, corporations, groups, and individuals whose actions affect their well-being. At the same time, a person or a public entity that is transparent about the way they have conducted their business earns the people’s trust, strengthening their relationships.
As the Newsletter the Pride of Northern Ireland puts it, “Officials know that there will be much greater scrutiny of their decisions and choices than there was 20 years ago. Journalism flourishes in a free environment but also helps to keep society free and on the right tracks. It is a virtuous circle.”
This is why authoritarian regimes who want to control their people and want to keep their questionable activities secret clamp down on media. The absence of objective, accurate information, especially relevant news, keeps them in ignorance, vulnerable to any kind of story that those in power feed them. Worse, with no access to information, citizens can remain isolated, unable to empower themselves, and are subject to fear and intimidation.
Just imagine waking up one day to a world that is unwired, without warning. No news websites are online to alert you to the latest government legislation, stock market movement, employment rate, or traffic situation. People would be unable to find out the even latest weather forecast or the next price increase their supermarkets. No one would be in the position inform as well, whether it is about the state of the country, or what will be happening in the next few days. With no idea what to expect, the situation is a nightmare straight out of the most horrific dystopian novel.
However, the scenario is all-too-real and all-too-possible, something which internet giant Google wants to prevent. Its Project Shield has successfully detected and warded off cyber attacks on the news sites it has asked to become part of the testing. Now, in a landmark decision that elevates the level of security on the Internet while protecting its freedom, Google is offering Project Shield free of charge to news agencies around the world. Everyone is invited – from the biggest media conglomerates, medium-sized news sites in cities, and the smallest, modestly funded start-ups that fight to maintain their independence. Should any of them print or post news that is deemed subversive, dangerous, or offensive by organizations or even governments, Project Shield will allow them to continue their work without fear of being shut down.
The protection offered by Project Shield, with Google’s financial and technological muscle behind it, is essential given the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks today. John Stack, who is hosting a Geopolitical Summit on Cyber security at the Florida International University, describes it as a major threat to national infrastructure and financial systems. While the Summit will address the concerns of businessmen who are anxious over rogue nations hacking into their systems, that same massive damage, from information blackouts to total equipment damage, can be done to news sites.
“Information that has been rigorously checked for accuracy is free from any hidden agenda, and is available at all times is an integral part of a democratic society. It is also the culture that supports the Internet,” says Born2Invest CEO Dom Einhorn.
“They value the work of journalists who have integrity and are diligent in their honesty. Dozens of our own writers around the world make sure they check their data before they upload our news items. They know that what they write can influence the reading public who want two things: transparency and truth,” he adds, regarding Born2Invest and journalism.
In the London School of Economics blog, Columbia Journalism professor Michael Schudson maintains, “…an increasingly critical news media has helped enormously to support transparency as a central cultural value. They arose before the internet but the internet has unquestionably intensified public expectations that people should have access to the information that affects our lives.”
An informed, empowered people make a democracy thrive. By defending news sites all over the world, Project Shield has enveloped the world’s free societies under an electronic arsenal that will uphold its liberties.