Recognising defenders of free expression online

Google’s European Public Policy Blog|09/03/2011|Viet Tan in the News|

March 9, 2011

Events in the Middle East have sparked a global discussion on the importance of free expression and underline the role the Internet can play in giving voice to the once-silent. And with 1.6 billion people online worldwide, people now have the ability to access and share information at a scale unprecedented in human history.

At the same time, governments around the world are increasingly taking action to prevent free information flow, both online and offline. Repressive regimes are becoming more and more sophisticated – both politically and technically – in restricting people’s access to the net.Reporters Without Borders counts 119 online activists around the globe who are jailed for expressing their views freely online.

The free flow of information is very much part of Google’s core mission, and that’s why we’ve teamed up Reporters Without Borders and are sponsoring a Netizen Prize which will recognise blogger or Internet activist who defends freedom of expression on the Net.

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The award will be made at 6:30pm at a ceremony in Paris on the eve of the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship. Speakers at the event will include Reporters without Borders President Dominique Gerbaud; Google’s South, East, Middle East and Africa President, Carlo d’Asaro Biondo; Secretary General Jean-Francois Julliard; and Doctors Without Borders founder and former French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner.

In 2010, the award went to Iranian cyberfeminists behind the website Change for Equality.

We are proud to work with Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that combines a sense of justice with compassion and practical know-how. Above all, we salute the courage of men and women around the globe who fight every day for free expression and the free flow of information.

2011 Netizen Award Nominees

Nawaat, Tunisia:
Independent Tunisian bloggers created a group blog in 2004. It played a crucial role in the coverage of Tunisia’s recent social and political unrest.

Ali Abduleman, Bahrain:
Bahraini netizens consider this blogger one of the Gulf’s Internet pioneers. Ali Abdulemam has been imprisoned in Manama since September 4, 2010 on a charge of disseminating false information on Bahrain Online, a forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain.

Jiew, Prachatal, Thailand:
Known as Jiew, Chiranuch Premchaiporn is the editor and webmaster of Prachatai, a Thai alternative news website. She has repeatedly been arrested and is currently being prosecuted on several charges under the criminal code and the Computer Crimes Act including defaming the royal family. She faces the possibility of up to 82 years in prison.

Tan Zuoren, China:
A contributor to the 64Tianwang human rights blog, Tan Zuoren is serving a five-year sentence on a charge of inciting subversion of state authority. The website’s editor Huang Qi is serving a three-year sentence. After the May 2008 earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan, Tan urged fellow netizens to come to the province to help document the plight of the families of the victims.

Pham Hoang Minh, Vietnam / France:
A blogger with dual French and Vietnamese citizenship, Pham Minh Hoang was arrested on August 13, 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City, where he was teaching at the Institute of Technology. He was formally charged on September 20 with “activities aimed at overthrowing the government” (article 79 of the criminal code) and membership of a “terrorist organisation” (the banned Viet Tan party).

Natalia Radziner, Charter 97, Belarus:
Journalist Natalia Radzina is the editor of Charter 97, a news website that covers cases of arrests, physical attacks and harassment involving traditional and online journalists and human rights activists She was arrested on December 20, 2010, one day after the recent presidential election. Charter 97’s founder, Oleg Bebenin, was found “hanged” in September.