#CollateralFreedom: RSF now unblocking 21 sites in 12 countries
To mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, celebrated on 12 March, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announces that its “Operation Collateral Freedom” is now providing alternative online access to a total of 21 news websites that are blocked in their own countries.
In what is the sixth year of “Operation Collateral Freedom,” RSF is adding four more sites to the list of those it is already unblocking by means of a technique known as website mirroring, under which “mirrors” or copies of the sites are placed on international servers beyond the reach of censors.
All of these websites are blocked in their own countries – a total of 12 countries – by authoritarian or dictatorial regimes that are increasingly blocking access to independent news sites.
They include China, where the human rights website, Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch, also known by the Chinese name Minsheng Guancha, has been blocked by the government since shortly after its creation in 2006. Its founder, Liu Feiyue was sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” and “publishing articles that opposed the socialist system.”
Operation Collateral Freedom is also now unblocking the website of La Voix de Djibouti, a radio station that is Djibouti’s only independent media outlet. Created in 2010, it is one of the few spaces for free speech and information and, without it, Djibouti would become a news and information black hole. To escape persecution, the radio station is based in Paris from where it broadcasts by satellite and on its website, which is blocked by the authorities.
RSF’s own website, which publishes information in several languages including Arabic about press freedom violations around the world, is one of the more than 500 news sites that have been blocked in Egypt without reference to the courts, for no clear reason, during the past three years. The RSF site, rsf.org, has been blocked within Egypt since August 2017. Operation Collateral Freedom is enabling Egyptian Internet users to access it again.
>>> See the RSF website in Egypt <<<
How and why does RSF circumvent the censorship?
Thanks to Operation Collateral Freedom, around 230,000 visitors have been able to access the independent Burundian news website Iwacu since December 2019. Unblocked by RSF in 2018, Iwacu is one of Burundi’s few remaining independent media outlets.
Operation #CollateralFreedom circumvents Internet censorship by means of a technique in which “mirrors” or duplicates of the censored websites are created on international servers belonging to the world’s Internet giants located around the world. If a country wants to block access to the mirrors, it must also deprive itself of access to all the sites and services hosted on these servers, which would inflict significant “collateral damage” on its own economy, hence the operation’s name.