The Battle for Freedom of Expression Online: Where are the Journalists?

17 December 2017 - A Other on Geneve,Switzerland


Organization: Center for International Media Assistance & International Media Support (IMS)

Title: The battle for freedom of expression online: Where are the journalists?


Online surveillance, phishing, content blocking, and the right to be forgotten are all familiar territory for many journalists as they uncover corruption, report on human rights abuses, and other politically charged topics. Their rights to freedom of expression and privacy are challenged and repressed on a near-daily basis as the internet continues to shape and define the environment in which all media operate. But despite the profound implications of internet governance on the news media and the ability of journalists to exercise their rights, journalists and news media are largely absent from the world of internet governance.

The general absence of the media is problematic because some of the most-discussed issues at forums like IGF have direct effects on how journalists and news media outlets operate, including for example the “right to be forgotten”, intermediary liability, and internet shutdowns — all issues with potential negative impact on press freedom as well as ultimately, citizens’ right to access to information. In order to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the multi-stakeholder Internet governance model, it is critical that media – in particular those from the Global South who are often disproportionately affected by efforts to limit free speech – get involved in internet governance. 

At this roundtable we will define key priorities of the global media development community in getting more systematically involved in Internet governance. This includes collaboratively designing priorities and ensuring that journalists from the Global South are able to contextualise the impact of global internet governance discussions. 

Journalists and the media sector need to be more involved in shaping the digital future of our global media ecosystem. This roundtable will address how to make the multistakeholder Internet governance model more robust by incorporating journalists and the media sector more broadly in the discussions. This includes both how to improve journalistic coverage of global Internet governance decisions, as well as make sure that the media are represented as active stakeholders in the governance processes at forums like IGF, IETF, ICANN, ITU, and IEEE. This panel will follow a consultative process being organized by CIMA, IMS, and GFMD throughout 2017 to define key priorities of the global media development community in getting more systematically involved in internet governance. Input at this roundtable will shape future interventions at Internet governance bodies to make sure that the policies and standards will foster vibrant and open media ecosystems.