CloudFlare named its project Galileo after Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian physicist and astronomer whose writings in support of heliocentrism -- the astronomical model where the Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun -- were deemed heretical and banned by the Catholic Church.
"Like Galileo, websites espousing politically sensitive -- even heretical -- speech are often victims of suppression," said Kenneth R. Carter, counsel at CloudFlare, in a blog post Thursday. "Like Galileo, most of these sites dont have the resources to protect their discoveries from being suppressed."
DDoS attacks have frequently been used by hackers and other groups as a tool for both censorship and protest. Hacktivist group Anonymous is famous for its DDoS campaigns driven by political motives against pro-copyright organizations, governments and religious groups.
In May, Firedoglake.com, which describes itself as a "progressive news site, online community, and action organization," asked its readers to make donations so it can fend off DDoS attacks.
CloudFlare is not the first security company to offer free DDoS protection to websites serving the public interest. In October 2013, Google launched Project Shield, an initiative that allows websites dealing with news, human rights and election-related content to use the company's infrastructure and DDoS defenses.