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Measuring Global Threats to Internet Freedom

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Panel Summary

As more and more countries around the world attempt to stifle free expression on the Internet and develop more advanced methods to do so, this panel will present current trends in Internet freedom around the world, as well as discussing the methods used to monitor restrictions on Internet usage.

Detailed Description

Freedom House's 2007 Freedom of the Press survey, which reviews the state of press freedom in every country in the world, warned of continually expanding restriction on the internet. This panel will discuss the state of internet freedom around the world, highlighting particularly egregious examples censorship and repression, as well as providing examples of how to monitor and combat this disturbing trend.

The Open Net Initiative's recently released publication, Access Denied, provided an in-depth look at the technical and legal methods used to censor the Internet in 40 different countries. A representative from the Open Net Initiative will discuss their research into the technology used by nations to limit their citizens' access to online material.

Beyond technical censorship, imprisonment, threats, and violence against journalists and bloggers on the internet reduces the ability of citizens to express themselves freely on the internet. A representative from the Committee to Protect Journalists will discuss the intimidation techniques used by states to silence controversial voices and their efforts to bring attention to the issue.

International organizations do have the ability to set standards and norms for free expression on the internet, and provide a check against the push of states to increase their control of the internet. A representative from the World Press Freedom Committee will discuss their efforts to ensure that international standards of press freedom apply to the internet and other new media.

For the past 27 years, Freedom House has examined the media environment yearly in each country in the world, seeking to encompass the varied ways in which pressure can be placed upon the flow of information and the ability of print, broadcast, and internet-based media to operate freely and without fear of repercussions. Preliminary results from this years' report indicates that more countries are increasing their capability to censor internet content. Dr. Karlekar from Freedom House will discuss the most recent findings from the 2008 survey, scheduled to be released in late April, as well as providing an overview of global developments relating to internet freedom.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.


Karin Karlekar is the editor of Freedom of the Press, Freedom House's annual survey of press freedom around the world.

Rob Faris is research director at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

Richard N. Winfield is the chairman of the World Press Freedom Committee.

Joel Simon is the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.