Friday, January 29, 2010

Democracy Online: Can the Internet Bring Change?

Google Public Policy Blog: Google D.C. Talk Feb. 8 - Democracy Online: Can the Internet Bring Change?

Last summer a chilling 40-second video clip, recorded on a cell phone, went viral and caught the attention of the world. It captured the haunting image of a 26-year-old music student, Neda Soltan, who was shot and killed in the streets of Tehran while protesting the Iranian presidential election.

Some experts look at this incident and others where new technology is being used by opponents of repressive regimes and have come to the conclusion that online free expression has the potential to bring about great democratic changes. Others are less optimistic, noting that governments are manipulating Internet activists and that, in any case, all the activity amounts to little more than taking offline techniques and moving them online.

So is the Internet stoking democratic change or is its impact hyped? Are repressive regimes conditioning people not to expect free expression on the Internet? Is online organizing little more than a game of Whac-a-Mole with one form of repression being replaced by another? What are the implications for political organizing of the recent discovery that the email accounts of dozens of Chinese human rights advocates appear to have been hacked? Join Google and Freedom House to answer these questions and many more.

Please submit and vote on these and other questions for the panel at Google Moderator.

Moderator: Pablo Chavez, Managing Policy Counsel, Google


Larry Diamond, Director, Democracy Program, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University

Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs, Freedom House

Omid Memarian, Iranian Dissident Blogger

When: Monday February 8, 2010 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Where: Google DC 1101 New York Avenue, NW 2nd Floor Entrance on Eye Street Washington, DC

Please click here to RSVP

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Cyber-Attacks Are New Low for China Internet Censorship


CONTACT:  Mary McGuire in Washington, +1-202-747-7035 

Washington – January 13, 2010

Freedom House commends Google’s decision to contest internet censorship by the Chinese authorities, despite the distinct possibility that this action will result in the closure of its operations in China.

Google is taking this action in the face of what the company described as a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack on [its] corporate infrastructure originating from China.” It is believed this attack was aimed at accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

“The cyber attacks on Google’s operations fit a clear pattern of internet censorship and interference,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director at Freedom House. “They are part of a vast, multilayered system the Chinese Government uses to control the internet.”  

Freedom on the Net, Freedom House’s analysis of global internet freedom, finds that China’s internet environment “remains one of the most controlled in the world.” Chinese Government controls include sophisticated surveillance of dissidents’ online activities. The most recent cyber attacks confirm a long-suspected belief that NGOs and human rights activists in China are being directly targeted.

“Google’s decision to end its filtering activities was the right thing to do and we hope that other companies follow suit and refrain from being complicit in the repressive activities of the Chinese government,” said Daniel Calingaert, deputy director of programs at Freedom House. “And we look to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her upcoming speech on internet freedom, to outline a strategy to address the entire system of internet control in China and the global threat to free expression online.”

Read more about China:

Freedom on the Net: China

Freedom in the World 2009: China

Freedom of the Press 2009: China

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in China since 1972.

Freedom matters.
Freedom House makes a difference.


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