Key Asia Forum to Tackle Internet Censorship

Published: June 14, 2010

Amid attacks on internet users and backsliding on freedom of expression and association, Asia is convening its first-ever regional Internet Governance Forum. This is an historic opportunity for civil society, businesses and governments to make human rights one of the internet’s fundamental guiding principles.

“Asia has more Internet users than any other region, and they are at the forefront of the battle against government censorship and control,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House. “People want to be able to use the internet to exchange ideas and express their opinions freely, and internet governance must protect and promote these rights.”

The relevance of Asia to internet governance and free expression has become increasingly apparent in the months following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s internet freedom speech, demonstrated by a string of attacks on online expression including the Chinese cyber attack on Google, Thailand’s crackdown on online news and commentary, Australian and Korean attempts to impose internet filtering, and continuing censorship by autocratic governments in Burma and Vietnam.

The Asia Pacific IGF [ ], which will take place in Hong Kong at the invitation of the government on June 15 and 16, offers an opportunity for stakeholders in the region to determine the values the Internet should promote. The is the first time Asia will contribute to the United Nations process that helps define the nature of the most important communication tool of our era.

As one of the hosting organizations, Freedom House is supporting the participation of several freedom of expression advocates and other civil society members from throughout Southeast Asia and the development of panels on openness and civil society as well as a final report to be submitted to the United Nations Secretary General as part of the official record.

“Recognizing that the free flow of information builds stronger and more successful societies, it’s vital that we translate the promise of this technology into the protection of basic human rights,” said Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster of Thai news site, Pratchatai, who is on trial for allegedly violating the 2007 Computer Crimes Act because of comments posted to the site.

The IGF serves as a platform to discuss issues and develop resources for the United Nations to uphold the principles of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and provide recommendations and expertise for the annual UN Internet Governance Forum [ ].

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Freedom Matters.
Freedom House makes a difference.

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