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Google’s Jigsaw – A Tool for Oppressed Journalists


Google Ideas was an initiative started by tech enthusiasts and programmers to provide people with content and products that help solve real-world issues. Google Ideas has evolved into a new organization called “Jigsaw”. Jigsaw is an innovative group that has been working to provide journalists and truth seekers with tools to protect their ability to cover sensitive content. The services that Jigsaw provide, can range from hacker protection software to investigative tools that help put together the “Jigsaw puzzle” of corruption and criminal activity.

The biggest factor in creating Jigsaw was an idea that integrity of information is vital to a successful society. Journalists across the world are facing increasing pressure to submit to overreaching governments, and not report the truth for fear of censorship. In many countries, media only reports things that follow the party line. Jigsaw seeks to empower reporters to challenge the status quo, and seek truth when others will not.

Vice News created a documentary covering the challenges that journalists in Venezuela face. According to the video and the report

“The Venezuelan government has recently cracked down on independent newspapers and radio networks in an effort to silence any voices critical of the ruling left-wing party.”

Vice followed many freelance journalists to see the challenges they face, as well as the underground reporting network that keeps the populous informed.

Jigsaw offers a service called Google Shield, in which individual journalists can request protection through Google Infrastructure from Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) Attacks on sites. The denial of service attack is a form of hacking that forces a website to shut down due to massive amounts of connections that overwhelm the site. Oppressive governments and opposing groups have utilized this type of attack to take down public information sites and journalists that report on negative or non-conforming content. Human rights groups have also gained much protection from services throughout Jigsaw.

While project shield is just one tool, Jigsaw offers a wide range of software and products that allow journalists to work independently and relatively free from regulation. Many tools are still in beta, and are going through testing to allow better implementation, but Google’s interest in the truth is commendable. These small steps are already paving the way for transparent and accountable governments, that are held responsible for their actions.

The internet is a wonderful tool that allows the world to connect to information in a way unlike any other. One challenge is that while information can be found, governments can also hide information. It is the duty of journalists to use every possible tool at their disposal to report the truth, and keep the people informed.

How do you feel about journalists in emerging countries? Do you think there should be a greater effort to get these tools into the hands of correspondents like them?

Let us know your answer to these thoughtful questions in the comment section! Thanks again for reading another #SummitPress article.

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