Securing Human Rights Online: Internet Freedom Fellows Program

Posted by David Kennedy
March 29, 2013
Internet Freedom Fellows 2013 in Geneva

At the front lines of the fight for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are human rights defenders, who often depend on the internet to communicate with fellow activists and to report on human rights violations to the international community. For the third year in a row, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva brought together human rights activists from different parts of the world to meet with fellow activists, U.S. and international government leaders, and members of civil society and the private sector. Since 2011, the Internet Freedom Fellows program has convened human rights activists from across the globe to Geneva, Washington and Silicon Valley to share experiences and lessons learned on the importance of a free Internet to the promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as fundamental human rights.

"The immense power of the internet as a tool for positive tool and for shared gain is inherently tied to its bottom up nature. A network is only as powerful as its users and their abilities to connect with one another," said Ambassador Betty King at an event hosted by the Internet Society in Geneva for this year's Internet Freedom Fellows. She continued, "The voices of those like Internet Freedom fellows are what give the internet its great potential. We must ensure that they continue and continue to be heard."

One of the central themes that emerged from this year's program is the importance of an open and multi-stakeholder Internet to freedom of expression and economic growth. Michael Anti, the fellow from China spoke candidly about how the internet has empowered the Chinese people to practice freedom of speech and to be more vocal about human rights violations in China. New Zealand Fellow Brownen Robertson discussed her work to increase the flow of information in and out of Iran. She said, "In Iran the internet is not just a political space, it is a human space because in the absence of all fora for expressing themselves in public spaces and often even in private spaces Iran's many and varied minority community very often have no other place to congregate except for online". Ghanaian Fellow Mac Jordan highlighted how mobile technology powered by the internet has spurred economic growth and helped farmers in his country.

Learn more about the fellows, their meetings and events and view photos on the Internet Freedom Fellows website.



Robert L.
March 29, 2013

Robert L. in Canada writes:

Well done,I still say this is the most powerful tool for changing our world we have ever seen, use with care, but do use!,..One point that is rarely if ever discussed is the importance of upholding rights in countries that are not often seen as abusers, The US and Canada for instance?, It is extremely important that those who advocate for rights as a country, uphold those same rights at home in a manner that can be and is seen to be effective,,We have no right to be telling others if we! cant do it here at home, and no "excuses",..this is far too important to allow abusers to infiltrate and use our systems of justice and rights as a tool of abuse[and this is more common here than most seem to want to acknowledge], Reagan said it well,"it is the primary function of any government to protect its people", I like to think he was speaking of the weak and vulnerable of our societies that can be and so often are the targets of systemic abuse and gang/gangster actions etc,We are! changing our world as we speak,one person,one group, and country at a time, but it is! happening,and lets not forget to applaud the success,s as well as point out the failures, encouraging others to action is a critical part of what we do, no?.:)btw, on that point especially? well done US State,, more please!

March 30, 2013

Pedro in Colombia writes:

country although many are controlling the internet, and no sail or share information freely

United States
April 1, 2013

Mari in the U.S.A. writes:

When you write, "At the front lines of the fight for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are human rights defenders, who often depend on the internet to communicate with fellow activists and to report on human rights violations to the international community," it sounds very much like you are describing Bradley Manning. What happened to him?

United States
April 3, 2013

Mari in the U.S.A. writes:

New from the U.S.:

"A legal group of criminal defense attorneys has formed to combat what they describe as the FBI and Justice Department’s use of harassment and over-prosecution to chill and silence those who engage in journalism, Internet activism or dissent.

The group, the Whistleblower Defense League, will, according to attorney Jason Flores-Williams, defend individuals engaged in investigating the United States government and those who are 'in positions to reveal truths about this government and its relationships with other governments and corporations.'"

Douglas D.
August 17, 2013
Hi there, this weekend is fastidious in support of me, because this occasion i am reading this enormous informative post here at my home.


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