Google's cybersecurity incubator Jigsaw expands its Project Shield for political organisations in Europe on the eve of parliamentary elections in May 2019. Project Shield was launched in 2016 to mitigate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks for free on news websites in the US to keep vital political information accessible. The project was aimed at smaller independent news organisations that did not have the resources to survive DDoS attacks and stay online. Later, the project started to protect sites for registered political organisations, independent journalists, human rights groups, and elections monitoring services. Now the project is also available for European operators for free. European political organisations will be able to protect their websites from DDoS attacks that may deny people from accessing their information. This year’s European Parliament elections will attract more attention than usual because of the Brexit issue.
Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss.
Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.
Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.
Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.