Has Google solved the DDOS problem?
Google has responded to the turmoil over Cyxymu with a very intriguing statement: As censorship techniques and online attacks become more pervasive, it’s clear that fundamental Internet freedoms are at stake. In the case of CYXYMU, entire services were knocked offline in order for one user to be silenced. This goes to show how far ...
As censorship techniques and online attacks become more pervasive, it’s clear that fundamental Internet freedoms are at stake. In the case of CYXYMU, entire services were knocked offline in order for one user to be silenced. This goes to show how far suppressive groups will go in order to impede on free speech.
Google collaborated with the other targeted services — LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook — to help identify the origins of the attacks and minimize their impact. While Blogger was able to withstand the attack this time around, we hope that governments and companies will recognize the threats to free expression that exist today and will work together to ensure that the Internet continues to provide many safe havens for dissidents.
So, working my way through this finest example of corporate spin, I think Google is stating something like this: we will defend free speech, despite all this DDOS business (see more commentary on the Guardian’s blog as to what all of this might mean).
Great! For the sake of experiment, now I am really urging everyone who has experienced DDOS and thinks that the attacks are politically or economically motivated to set up an account on Google’s Blogger. I’d be curious to see if those bloggers who get less public attention than Cyxymu would be treated as nicely as him.
This raises two questions. First, is Google ready to become the primary nest of all dissidents and "digital refugees" like Cyxymu? By putting all eggs in one basket, it is actually possible that hundreds of dissenting voices may get silenced as a result of an attack on one of them. And if that happens, I am pretty sure what the reaction of other hosting companies might be: "if Google can’t manage the DDOS flood, nobody can, so we may as well give up".
Another problem is that many dissenting conversations are embedded in particular online environments and platforms and can’t be easily transported to Google’s "save havens". Take Cyxymu: his primary audience is on LiveJournal and probably would always stay there, as long as LiveJournal is the leading platform for serious debate in Russia. Setting up an always-on account on Blogger is probably worse than having a LiveJournal blog that is attacked and made unavailable every few weeks. Sure, a Blogger account may serve as a nice back-up plan, but it surely won’t replicate the original blog, because there is already a sizeable community around it (easily a few thousand people in Cyxymu’s case).
All in all, I think that Google is seizing the PR opportunity, which is okay, as long as they are ready to stay by their words and embrace – rather than spun – bloggers like Cyxymu. The real loser in the recent attacks was Georgia’s President Saakashvili. Cyxymu presented him with an excellent opportunity to say something like this: "We are going to defend free speech and dissent of our citizens, no matter what our enemies are doing, both offline and online. If necessary, we’ll comit 10% of our GDP to making Cyxymu’s voice heard. I’ll personally make sure that our government officials start reading his blog, find out what DDOS is and set up a server farm with dedicated staff that would take care of people like Cyxymu. Also, anyone else with a grudge against Russia is welcome to join!"
That was a great PR moment, which Saakashivili already lost. Instead, he said nothing. I spoke to Cyxymu by phone a few days ago and he told me that no government officials contacted him…Not even Russian ones 🙂