[IRPCoalition] WG: [IAMCR] Sign the Freedom of Information and Expression-Declaration!

Wolf Ludwig wolf.ludwig at comunica-ch.net
Thu Apr 3 23:12:55 EEST 2014

Just FYI and perhaps support
with regards,

Christian Fuchs sent Thu, 03 Apr 2014 16:50:
>The information society, the Internet and the media are today largely 
>controlled by large corporations such as Google and Facebook and a 
>state-industrial complex. The control mechanisms unveiled by Edward 
>Snowden, the closure of and attack against public service media, 
>repression against critcal journalists, online platforms and activists, 
>and a highly centralised Internet and media economy are characteristic 
>for this situation.
>We live in an unfree information society with limits to expression and 
>an unfree Internet.
>Sign the Freedom of Information and Expression Declaration that demands 
>a free Internet, free media and a free information society!
>The 2014 Vienna Declaration on Freedom of Information and Expression
>More information and videos of talks from the Freedom of Information 
>The 2014 Vienna Declaration on Freedom of Information and Expression
>This petition can be signed online at
>We, the speakers of the Vienna 2014 International Conference “Freedom of 
>Information Under Pressure. Control – Crisis – Culture” (comprised of 
>international academics, media practitioners, librarians, experts of 
>open culture and public space, activists, critical citizens, lawyers and 
>policy makers), sign the following Declaration on Freedom of Information 
>and Expression:
>Having met in Vienna of Austria on 28 February and 1 March 2014 and 
>having discussed the challenges of freedom of information in the light 
>of the recent surveillance revelations and the increase in censorship 
>and prosecutions of media, journalists and whistle-blowers in Europe and 
>beyond, we express our deep concern and appeal for public vigilance to 
>defend freedom of information and expression as key democratic rights.
>We consider Edward Snowden’s revelations as a wake up call. His story is 
>not about one man leaking classified information; rather it is about 
>privacy, civil liberties, power and democracy. But also about the future 
>of the Internet itself, the nature of democratic oversight - and much more.
>We condemn the existence of a surveillance-industrial complex, in which 
>the American, British and other European states’ intelligence services 
>conduct mass surveillance of the Internet, social media, mobile and 
>landline telephones, in co-operation with communications corporations 
>such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Skype, Yahoo!, Aol as well 
>as private security firms.
>We express our solidarity and support to whistle-blowers, journalists 
>and organisations, including Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea 
>Manning, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian and others, for 
>their efforts towards fostering transparency and public accountability. 
>We denounce their oppression and prosecution that we consider as a major 
>threat to freedom of information.
>We observe a great paradox of the media in the 21st century: although 
>more people than ever have the means to express themselves freely, there 
>are huge power asymmetries that favour corporate and state control of 
>the media: journalists in Europe and many other regions face an alarming 
>increase in violent attacks, intimidation, legal threats and other 
>restrictions on their work. Among the important factors of this paradox 
>are the growth of anti-terrorism laws and new nationalisms, the fusion 
>of political, economic and media power, and the weakening of the 
>authority of critical and high-quality media, including independent 
>media, investigative journalism and public service media. Furthermore, 
>the Internet and social media are largely controlled by corporations and 
>there is not enough material support for alternative Internet and media 
>projects. This mix seems to represent an existential challenge to 
>critical media, independent journalism and to the established framework 
>of international laws and safeguards for press freedom and the freedoms 
>of expression, speech, information and opinion.
>We point out that the current crisis and austerity policies have a 
>serious negative effect on important democratic freedoms. The official 
>political reactions to the crisis have given grounds for the further 
>centralisation of corporate, state and media power that undermine the 
>freedom of information and further the prosecutions of citizens, 
>activists, journalists and the media. We particularly condemn attempts 
>to limit or close down critical, independent and public service media. 
>The Greek government’s closure of the public service broadcaster ERT is 
>in this respect a particularly alarming development.
>We stress that under the conditions of corporatisation and 
>bureaucratisation, the potentials created by access to information and 
>public knowledge are hampered. In many countries and at a transnational 
>level we lack adequate laws for the transparency of corporate and state 
>power and citizens’ access to information about it in order to hold 
>those in power accountable.
>A particularly alarming development of the limitation of freedom of 
>information can be found in the world of libraries: large corporate 
>publishers tend to license access to academic and literary works only in 
>expensive bundles and make the access to easy-to-use e-books difficult 
>and expensive. The result is a limit of public access to cultural works 
>so that people have more and more to rely on purchasing books and 
>articles, which is a matter of purchasing power that disadvantages many 
>citizens. The corporate power of publishing houses thereby limits the 
>public’s right to inform itself.
>We consider that the right of access to information can promote 
>citizens’ civic and political participation by raising their levels of 
>trust in political and policy-making institutions, while it can fight 
>phenomena such as lobbying and corruption. Open access to public and 
>digitised knowledge and scholarly research is also crucial for the 
>continuous education of the broader public and professionals, the 
>promotion of cultural production and diversity and the preservation of 
>the historic and collective memory. New social media, libraries and 
>archives can and should play an important role in this field.
>We are convinced that freedom of information is a value worth struggling 
>for and that the current framework and developments strongly threaten 
>freedom, democracy and basic civil liberties.
>A free culture, a free economy of information and a free polity of 
>information are possible!
>First signees:
>Antonis Broumas (Attorney at law, Digital Liberation Network, Greece)
>Arne Hintz (Lecturer, University of Cardiff, UK)
>Augustine Zenakos (Journalist, UNFOLLOW magazine, Greece)
>Barbara Trionfi (Press Freedom Manager, International Press Institute)
>Christian Fuchs (Professor of Social Media, University of Westminster, UK)
>Dimitris Tsapogas (Researcher, University of Vienna, Austria)
>Gerfried Sperl (Journalist, PHOENIX, Austria)
>Gill Phillips (Director of Editorial Legal Service, The Guardian, United 
>Joachim Losehand (Scholar, VIBE!at, Austria)
>Kostas Arvanitis (Journalist and Director, Sto Kokkino Radio, Greece)
>Kostas Efimeros (Publisher, The Press Project, Greece)
>Lisa Schilhan (VÖB, University of Graz, Austria)
>Mariniki Alevizopoulou (Journalist, UNFOLLOW magazine, Greece)
>Minas Samatas (Professor, University of Crete, Greece)
>Miyase Christensen (Professor, Stockholm University, Royal Institute of 
>Technology, Sweden, London School of Economics, UK)
>Nikolaus Hamann (Vienna Public Libraries, KRIBIBI, Austria)
>Paloma Fernández de la Hoz (Catholic Social Academy, Austria)
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