May 22, 2012

Catalyzing action for Internet freedom

Reps from 40 countries descend on D.C. for Google conference

JD LasicaIjust arrived in Washington, D.C., for a conference with the goal of protecting freedom of expression on the Internet. Organized by Google, Internet at Liberty (they could have done better on the name) will “explore the most pressing dilemmas and exciting opportunities around free expression in the digital age.”

As the conference site says, “Today, more than any time in history, technological and political forces are colliding to draw lines about how the Internet functions. … The conference will explore creative ways to expand the free flow of information online” with global activists and representatives of academic centers, corporations, governments, the media and NGOs.

Certainly, Google has a business stake in a free and open Internet — an Internet that does not become balkanized as a result of attempts to bend the content citizens can see to reflect governments’ narrow, parochial interests. But here is an example where Google’s interests and the public’s interests sync up perfectly.

A gathering of Internet freedom organizations

I’ll be running the conference’s social media track (disclosure: Google recruited and paid me to organize it). Look for two days of workshops that will cover strategies and tools to advance cause organizations’ advocacy campaigns. Our charter is not to discuss only Internet freedom issues but any strategies, tactics and tools that can help change-makers using social media succeed. The plenary sessions Wednesday and Thursday will be live-streamed while the workshops will be video recorded and put online at a future date, I’m told. Follow the hashtag #InternetLiberty.

Somewhere between roughly 250 and 350 people from as many as 40 countries will be attending the invitation-only event, the second in what may become an ongoing series of gatherings held every couple of years. (The first was Internet at Liberty – Budapest in 2010.)

Among the attendees at the Newseum will be representatives from the State Department and Justice Department, Voice of America, Human Rights Watch, WITNESS, Egyptian Democratic Academy, the World Bank, Viet Tan, Center for Democracy & Technology, Citizen Lab, TechFreedom, Committee to Protect Journalists, the Ford Foundation, Freedom House, Global Voices Online, Libya Public Policy Forum, Internet Society chapters in Bulgaria, Gambia, Nepal and Poland and many others. My old friend Rebecca MacKinnon will be one of two folks from New America Foundation coming out for this.

Fascinating gathering, no?

Social media for advocacy campaigns

Over at our sister site, Socialbrite, tomorrow we’ll launch a Social Advocacy Toolkit that contains informational guides to the best platforms and tools available to social advocates, including campaign tools, 10 steps to run a successful campaign, monitoring, metrics and fundraising tools, Internet freedom resources and more.

For our workshops, “Social media: Strategies and tools for advocacy campaigns,” running Wednesday and Thursday, Google brought in a great batch of speakers:

• Jim Murphy, Emma Daly and Enrique Piraces from Human Rights Watch
• d’Arcy Lunn From the Global Poverty Project
• Sana Saleem, an activist and political reformer in Pakistan who runs the advocacy/policy organization Bolo Bhi
• Oscar Morales, the Colombian activist whose Facebook protests against the terrorist group FARC was chronicled on page 1 of David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect”
• Matt Perault of Facebook
• Jason Karsh of Google Plus

Thanks to everyone who’s coming out for this important gathering to catalyze action back home!

About this conference

Internet at Liberty 2012 Conference: Join the discussion (Google public policy blog)

Schedule of events

• Live-stream Wed.-Thu.: YouTube.com/citizentube

• A microsite with the bios of the speakers was supposed to be live by now, but apparently isn’t.JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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