Media advocacy watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it is unblocking access to nine news websites in an effort to combat online censorship by governments that violate human rights.
RSF said the move, dubbed Operation Collateral Freedom and launched on March 12 to mark the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, will make the sites available in the 11 countries where they are currently banned.
The group said in a statement that it will unblock websites banned in countries designated as "Enemies of the Internet" by setting up mirrors, or copies, of the websites, allowing people there to access them.
The 11 countries are Russia, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The websites include Grani.ru, which is blocked in Russia; Fergananews.com, which is blocked in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; Gooya News, blocked in Iran; and the Tibet Post, which is blocked in China.
The group said it is using the technique known as “mirroring” to duplicate the banned websites and post the copies on the Internet servers of corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
RSF said the economic and political cost of blocking the servers of these Internet giants to render the mirror sites inaccessible would be too high.
"Our nine sites are therefore protected against censorship," it said.
The Paris-based group said it is renting bandwidth for Operation Collateral Freedom, which will "gradually be used up as more and more people visit the mirror sites."
RSF said it would maintain the sites at its own expense for several months and appealed to Internet users to donate money to help pay for additional bandwidth afterwards, "so that the mirror sites will be available for as long as possible."