To strengthen its long-term commitment to cybersecurity protection, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is now a referring partner in Project Galileo—a website-resilience initiative by the internet infrastructure firm Cloudflare—which offers free digital defense tools and technical support to nonprofits, human rights groups, journalists, and other public interest organizations around the world.
“Around the world authoritarian regimes and malevolent actors are trying to silence the voice of democracy activists by attacking their websites and effectively taking them offline. In particular, independent news websites have been targeted because their factual and objective reporting often casts those in power in a negative light,” explains Daniel O’Maley, the Deputy Editor and Digital Policy Specialist at NED’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA).
Although Cloudflare offers basic services for free to anyone with a website, Project Galileo provides protection against even the most aggressive cyber attacks, most notably DDoS attacks that take websites offline. Large corporations must pay for this level of protection, estimated to cost around $5,000 per month, but now democracy activists worldwide can have their websites protected via Project Galileo. As a new partner, NED is now able to endorse or “sponsor” organizations that apply to receive these free services.
“This new partnership with Cloudflare’s Project Galileo enables us to extend the most sophisticated level of website resilience protection to democracy activists and independent media worldwide,” says O’Maley. “This will allow them to focus on their important work, rather than dealing with the technical effort of keeping their website online. Moreover, it will ensure that the content they produce is always accessible to citizens.”
Project Galileo launched in June 2014 and now supports around 600 organizations that otherwise would not be able to afford such services. To avoid biases when making decisions about whom should receive free services, Cloudflare works with an advisory board of partner organizations such as Amnesty International, National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Committee to Protect Journalists, and others to vet coverage requests.
How can an organization apply to receive Project Galileo protection?
Each organization interested in receiving Project Galileo must fill out an application on Cloudflare’s website. Once an organization applies, an email is sent to all of the sponsoring partners, such as NED, who are then asked to vouch for the legitimacy of the organization. If one of Cloudflare’s partners vouches for the organization, they will begin receiving free premium protection.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit, grant-making foundation with a mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. With an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, the NED Board, which is independent and bipartisan, makes more than 1600 grants each year to support projects that promote political and economic freedom and participation, human rights, a strong civil society, independent media and the rule of law in more than 90 countries. The Center for International Media Assistance at NED is a leading center for analysis and discussion for media development donors, implementers, and civil society actors on best practices and solutions for improving media systems.