Freedom Of The Press
“A fundamental right on its own, freedom of expression also provides the conditions for protecting and promoting all other human rights. But its exercise does not happen automatically; it requires a safe environment for dialogue, where all can speak freely and openly, without fear of reprisal.” — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Late last week, we ran an article addressing the fact that government censorship of internet content is on the rise, as reported in Google’s bi-annual Transparency Report.
This leads us to a few big questions: why? Isn’t it called “freedom of the press?” Is there anyone out there trying to protect that freedom? As today marks World Press Freedom Day, we thought it would be nice to get some answers to these questions.
No matter what website you run, whether it’s a dedicated server or virtual private server or shared cloud hosting, here’s a little information you need to know about the risk you run at being shut down.
Freedom Of The Press: The Facts
When it comes to jobs, a journalist can be a pretty dangerous one to have. Last year alone, an estimated 70 journalists were killed on the job, and if you include other media jobs and citizen journalists, that number rises significantly, according to The Globe and Mail.
It’s easy to see why this job can be so deadly. Journalists are charged with protecting the human rights of the citizens of the world, and that makes those violating these human rights terribly uncomfortable.
An example: on April 19, a death threat was discovered affixed to the human rights organization ARTICLE 19’s office door. Their office is located in Mexico, one of the worst places to be a journalist in terms of personal safety. Here, these crimes often go unpunished. The death threat, as with most crimes against journalists, was made in an effort to halt their research on exposing injustices in the country.
Freedom Of The Press: IFEX
IFEX, formerly the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, is a collective of 80 organizations out of 60 countries working towards exactly that: freedom of expression in the media. This group brings to light the direct threats to the media and highlights issues affecting their freedom.
As previously mentioned, there are areas worse than others when it comes to where journalists are working. A few of the worst places: China, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Cuba.
Freedom Of The Press: Enter The Internet
With the Internet, journalists have greater power in sharing their story instantly on a worldwide platform. That is, if the country in question isn’t censoring the Internet entirely.
There are countries bringing freedom back to the media, such as Myanmar’s choice to allow daily newspapers to be published. One baby step at a time. Organizations and networks like IFEX are trying to fight the threats to freedom of expression on the Internet, ending them once and for all, thanks to IFEX and the campaigns they organize such as the International Day to End Impunity.
Freedom Of The Press: Censorship
However, not all governments are buying into the argument that the Internet should be a place the media can speak freely. In some areas, the behavior of the media leads to limitations on their activities. In others, politicians try to take them down (usually when there is some form of threat to their position due to the information the media is releasing.) No matter which way you cut it, there are areas that seem they will never support a truly free media.
In these countries where the internet is censored entirely, there isn’t much anyone can do, whether virtual private server, shared hosting, or Linux hosting. It isn’t up to the host, it’s up to the government and that filter they’ve put in place to control what their citizens see.
How do you feel about government controlling what you can and cannot see online? Would you try to do something about it, or just accept it?