Saturday, April 28, 2012

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! submit to external free expression check-up

25 April 2012

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! submit to external free expression check-up



The Global Network Initiative (GNI) has just released its annual report, which takes a critical look at how three of its founding members, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!, are giving information to repressive governments or working with unscrupulous vendors.

The full findings won't be released until 2013, but the report details how external auditors are being granted unprecedented access to the workings of the three Internet giants to see if they are ready and willing to implement GNI's principles on free expression and privacy.

Robert Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists (which belongs to GNI) said, "Six years ago the idea that the titans of the Internet would open up their inner workings to outside scrutiny seemed a stretch."

According to the report, all three companies "need to engage more directly with human rights groups and scrutinise vendors more closely."

GNI specifically faults the tech industry as a whole for insufficient restrictions surrounding "dual-use" hardware technologies, such as routing and network equipment, that could be used for censorship and surveillance purposes.

The report also raised concerns about vendor contracts in place before GNI was established in 2008, as well as the need for tech firms to make specific disclosure to users when their data might be viewed by government authorities. It also recommends better free expression and privacy training for the board of directors.

GNI is a voluntary group of Internet companies, freedom of expression groups, progressive investors, and academics that includes IFEX members CPJ, Human Rights Watch and Index on Censorship. It aims to provide a global standard for the Internet and technology sector when dealing with government requests affecting free speech and privacy.

Source : IFEX

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

OAS adopts proposals that could weaken role of free expression special rapporteur

OAS adopts proposals that could weaken role of free expression special rapporteur


New proposals adopted by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States could be used to threaten the authority of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero
New proposals adopted by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States could be used to threaten the authority of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero
The Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council adopted the proposals of a working group that could be used to threaten the authority of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, report IFEX's Latin American and Caribbean group (IFEX-ALC), the International Press Institute (IPI) and other IFEX members.

As IFEX reported last month, those recommendations had been designed and pushed for by Ecuador, whose government has repeatedly criticised the efforts of the special rapporteur for interfering in internal affairs.

Ecuador's permanent representative to the OAS, María Isabel Salvador, stressed that her country wanted only to ensure that all eight Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) rapporteurships were being treated equally. "All rights deserve the same attention and all rapporteurships should have the same resources," she told news reporters, according to IPI.

Unlike the other rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression publishes an extensive stand-alone annual report and benefits from external funding. If fully implemented, Ecuador's recommendations would end both of those practices, forcing the inclusion of the annual report into a larger report about the region generally and requiring balanced funding among the rapporteurs. The third recommendation calls for a code of conduct to govern the rapporteur.

IFEX-ALC, an alliance of 16 IFEX members based in the region, along with international rights groups such as IPI, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), have spoken out in support of the rapporteur, Catalina Botero, and the office she leads.

According to the Knight Center, more than 60 NGOs and civil society representatives have alleged that the changes will damage the rapporteur's effectiveness and autonomy.

While there is still concern, IFEX-ALC members and the Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information noted that there was not unanimous support for Ecuador's recommendations on the Permanent Council. They say that "an overwhelming majority" said the recommendations "should be adopted only if they would lead to a genuine strengthening of the system in place to protect human rights and the work of the special rapporteur."

Countries like Costa Rica, Uruguay and Panama strongly supported the existing role of the special rapporteur and rejected any significant reforms that could weaken its mandate, they said.

But Mexico and Colombia had ambiguous responses. The Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) criticised the Colombian representative for characterising the reforms as "positive" and for not defending the role played by the special rapporteur in guaranteeing freedom of expression in the region.

For the moment, the recommendations are non-binding. According to the Knight Center, final approval depends on the votes of the 34 member nations at the next OAS General Assembly meeting, which will be held in Bolivia in June 2012.

In the meantime, IFEX-ALC members and the Regional Alliance have written to OAS members and encouraged them to "carefully evaluate the recommendations…, only adopting those that do not negatively affect the system itself, or potential victims or users of the Inter-American Human Rights System."

Source : IFEX

Nominate the blog that best defends free expression

Nominate the blog that best defends free expression

The world's largest international blog competition is now open for entries! Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in conjunction with German media group Deutsche Welle wants you to name the blog from anywhere in the world that best defends free expression, as part of the Best of the Blogs Awards (the BOBs).

Suggest candidates in 17 categories, including the RSF award, which aims to support bloggers in countries where freedom of speech and press are limited - and goes to a blog that takes a strong stance for freedom of information all over the world.

There are also awards for Best Blog, Best Use of Technology for Social Good, Best Social Activism Campaign, Best Video Channel, and best blog in each of the BOBs' 11 contest languages.

This year the Special Topic Award puts the spotlight on culture and education, paying special attention to projects and initiatives that look at the right to education and promote intercultural dialogue.

Then, for a month starting on 2 April, look over the nominees in each category and vote for the ones you think represent the best of the best. Winners will be announced on 2 May.

Nominate your favourites here.

Source : IFEX 

Data Journalism Awards open for entries

7 March 2012

Data Journalism Awards open for entries

Think you can get your message across in an age of information overload? Consider applying for the Data Journalism Awards, the first international contest recognising outstanding work and editorial excellence in the field of data journalism worldwide. The deadline for submissions is 10 April 2012.

The Data Journalism Awards are organised by the Global Editors Network, Google and the European Journalism Centre.

The jury, which include representatives from "The New York Times", Thomson-Reuters and "La Nacion", will select a winner for local/regional and national/international work from each the following three categories: data-driven investigative journalism; data visualisation and storytelling; and data-driven applications.

A total of 45,000 Euros (US $57,000) is up for distribution to the winners, who will be announced at the Global News Network's World Summit in Paris on 31 May 2012.


Source: IFEX

Kurt Schork Awards now accepting submissions

11 April 2012

Kurt Schork Awards now accepting submissions



The Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism celebrate freelance journalists and local reporters who show great courage in reporting on controversial issues. The deadline for entries is 31 May 2012.

Two prizes of US$5,000 each are awarded annually, one to a freelance journalist covering international news, and the other to a local journalist covering events within their home country or region. The stories can be about conflict, human rights, cross-border issues, corruption, or any other issue of controversy in a particular country or region.

Underwritten by the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund, the prizes honour Kurt Schork, a U.S. freelance journalist who was killed in a military ambush while on assignment for Reuters in Sierra Leone in May 2000.

For more information, visit the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund awards page.


Source : IFEX

Three Depressed terrorists

Three Depressed terrorists
Terrorism is inhuman act, an evil concept
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