Clear and Present Danger: Attempts to Change Internet Governance and Implications for Press Freedom

The Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy

held a panel discussion on

Clear and Present Danger: Attempts to Change Internet Governance and Implications for Press Freedom

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In November, the United Nations will organize its seventh annual Internet Governance Forum in Azerbaijan, which Freedom House rates as Partly Free on its Freedom on the Net 2011 survey. One month later, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, will hold a meeting of world governments that will include proposals touching on Internet regulation. While the current ITU treaty does not cover core Internet governance issues, Russia and China are advocating for an expansion of the treaty’s scope to include regulation in the name of increasing cybersecurity, fighting cybercrime, and protecting children. If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the decades-old, multi-stakeholder governance model—a consensus-driven, private-sector approach. A top-down, centralized, international regulatory structure could have dramatic implications for press freedom. Even before the Arab Spring showed the power of the Internet to accelerate the free flow of news and information and mobilize citizens, authoritarian regimes exercised extensive controls over digital media. Repressive governments have built pervasive, multilayered systems for online censorship and surveillance that continue to become more diverse and sophisticated. What are the drivers for changing the current Internet governance model? What is at stake for journalists and freedom of expression advocates? And how imminent are such changes? Panelists explored these questions and addressed the potential impact of changes to Internet regulation and the state of global Internet freedom.


Emma Llansó

Center for Democracy and Technology

Rebecca MacKinnon

New America Foundation

Emin Milli

University of London

Katitza Rodriguez

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Moderated by:

Susan Morgan

Global Network Initiative

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

About the speakers:

Emma Llansó is policy counsel with the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). Llansó joined CDT in 2009 as the Bruce J. Ennis Foundation First Amendment fellow working on CDT’s free expression policy team, focusing on amicus activity in First Amendment cases, defending Internet intermediary liability protections in the US and abroad, and advocating for user-empowerment tools and digital media literacy for minors. As policy counsel, Llansó continues to work on free expression policy and Internet governance issues with both the domestic free expression team and the Project on Global Internet Freedom. Llansó earned her juris doctorate from Yale Law School in 2009.

Rebecca MacKinnon is a journalist and activist whose work focuses on the intersection of the Internet, human rights, and foreign policy. As a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, she examines U.S. policies related to the Internet, human rights, and global Internet freedom. Her first book, Consent of the Networked, was published in January 2012 by Basic Books. MacKinnon is cofounder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network, and is also a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology sector. MacKinnon worked as a journalist for CNN in Beijing for nine years, serving as the network’s Beijing bureau chief and correspondent from 1998-2001 and then as Tokyo bureau chief and correspondent from 2001-2003. She has held several fellowship positions, including with Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press and Public Policy, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Open Society Foundations, and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. From 2007-2008, she served on the faculty of the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, where she taught online journalism and conducted research on Chinese Internet censorship. MacKinnon earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard College and was a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan from 1991-1992. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Emin Milli is a student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where he is writing his dissertation on new media and Arab revolutions. A writer and dissident from Azerbaijan, Milli was imprisoned in 2009 for two and a half years for his critical views about the government. He was conditionally released in November 2010, after serving 16 months of his sentence, in part due to strong international pressure on the government of Azerbaijan. From 2002-2004, Milli was director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and also advised the Council of Europe on more than 40 cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, many of whom were released following pressure from the Council. Prior to that, he was a coordinator for the International Republican Institute in Azerbaijan. A graduate of Baku State University International Law School, Milli finished his postgraduate courses in European studies at the University of Saarbrucken European Law School.

Susan Morgan is the executive director of the Global Network Initiative, which she joined in 2010. Previously, she spent six years with British Telecommunication’s (BT) corporate responsibility team, most recently heading the strategy, policy, and business planning team. She played a key role in running the governance processes that ensured that BT met its corporate responsibilities, including the development of its risk register. Prior to joining the corporate responsibility team, Morgan spent four years in the commercial section of BT undertaking a range of communication and strategic relationship roles. She spent the first seven years of her career in the non-profit sector, including at the Work Foundation, a UK-based organization. A British national, Morgan earned her master’s degree in politics from Durham University.

Katitza Rodriguez is the international rights director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), where she concentrates on comparative policy of international privacy issues, with special emphasis on law enforcement, government surveillance, and cross border data flows. Her work in EFF’s International Program also focuses on the intersection of cybersecurity with privacy, freedom of expression, and copyright enforcement. She is a member of the advisory board for Privacy International. Before joining EFF, Rodriguez was director of the international privacy program at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), where she worked on the Privacy and Human Rights Report, an international survey of privacy law and developments. Well known for her work on civil society issues and Internet governance, she served as an advisor for the UN Internet Governance Forum from 2009-2010. As the civil society liaison, she played a pivotal role in the creation and success of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Rodriguez earned her bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Lima in Peru.