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RSF launches second operation to unblock news sites
Published:  Mar 12, 2016 7:14 AM
Updated: Mar 15, 2016 7:17 AM

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has launched their second ‘Operation Collateral Freedom’ where they are providing access to six websites that have been blocked in their countries, including whistleblower site Sarawak Report in Malaysia.

“The aim of this operation - the continuation of ‘Operation Collateral Freedom #1', launched a year ago - is to make online information accessible in countries where it is banned and to dissuade ‘enemies of the Internet’ from targeting news websites,” RSF said in a statement today.

While last year they have unblocked 11 news websites, this year the six sites that have been unblocked are: Sarawak Report (Malaysia) Radio Free Asia and Defend the Defenders (Vietnam), Boxun (China), Sendika.org (Turkey) and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (Saudi Arabia).

They have also unveiled the RSF Censorship Detector app, and this as well as the unblocking of banned sites is to commemorate this year’s World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

The app is an extension to the Google Chrome browser, which will help direct traffic to the mirror sites set up by RSF of the targeted sites.

Whenever someone goes to a blocked site, they will see the Censorship Detector app icon on the browser turn red, and by clicking on the logo, they will be redirected to the mirror site.

The mirror site created by RSF of the blocked sites is based on a cloud hosting service provided by a major Internet company like Fastly, Amazon, Microsoft or Google, they said.

“To block access to the mirror, a government would at the same time deprive thousands of its country’s companies of the essential technological services provided by these Internet giants.

“This ‘collateral’ economic and political damage would be hard to justify,” RSF explained.

Since the launch of the first ‘Operation Collateral Freedom’, the servers used in the operation have handled more than 64 million requests and provided more than 587GB of data, they said.

Within the first few days, the success of the operation had forced RSF to expand the capacity of their servers to handle to massive volume of traffic.

“Since then, RSF has created other mirrors and is using additional hosting services.

“As a result, it is able to create an alternative mirror if a country decides to block all the services of one of the companies used,” they said.

They pointed out that a list of mirrors and services utilised by them is regularly updated on github.com .

“RSF will keep ‘Operation Collateral Freedom’ going for as long as the resources available allow,” they said.

Sarawak Report had been blocked by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) last year following the site’s rigorous reporting of the financial and corruption scandals involving Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his brainchild state fund 1MDB.

The latest news site to be blocked in Malaysia is The Malaysian Insider, which was blocked in February for allegedly violating Section 233 of the MCMC Act which deals with improper use of network facilities or network service.

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