FREE SPEECH/HUMAN RIGHTS/THE WEB

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The uprisings that have occurred all over the world in the last year have largely relied on web and social tools to spread. Tech companies been forced to respond to these events, sometimes supporting …

The uprisings that have occurred all over the world in the last year have largely relied on web and social tools to spread. Tech companies been forced to respond to these events, sometimes supporting human rights and other times suppressing human rights.

This presentation builds a case for supporting human rights through high-tech tools and the web.

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  • 1. Last  December,  the  Tunisian  revolu5on  started  when  a  frustrated  fruit  vendor  set  himself  on  fire.  That  man,  Mohamed  Bouazii,  was  only  26.  He  was  the  sole  earner  for  his  8  family  members  -­‐-­‐  and  word  about  his  death  spread  quickly  across  the  web  -­‐-­‐  though  the  implica5ons  of  his  act  wouldn’t  be  realized  un5l  much,  much  later.     1  
  • 2. Back  in  2009,  Neda  Agha  Soltan  was  shot  and  killed  during  the  Iranian  Elec5on  protests.  Her  death  was  captured  on  video  and  broadcast  across  the  web,  through  LiveStream,  YouTube  and  Vimeo.  It  was  later  described  as  “probably  the  most  widely  witnessed  death  in  human  history.”  Like  Mohamed,  Neda  was  26,  and  frustrated.    She  was  from  a  middle  class  family  -­‐-­‐  while  he  was  from  a  lower  class  family.  In  life  both  were  powerless  indivisuals.  In  death  they  became  the  symbols  that  united  their  countries.         2  
  • 3. The  riots  in  London  weren’t  that  different.  A  man  was  killed  by  the  police,  which  resulted  in  widespread  outrage,  communicated  through  the  web  and  mobile  devices.     3  
  • 4. That  man’s  name  is  Mark  Duggan.     4  
  • 5. The  riots  lasted  6  days,  during  which  one  story  in  par5cular  led  me  to  raise  a  concerned  eyebrow  to  the  issue  of  free  speech,  human  rights  and  the  web.   5  
  • 6. You  see,  in  hopes  of  ending  the  days  long  riots,  bri5sh  lawmakers  considered  shuYng  down  Facebook,  Twi[er  and  Blackberry  Messenger,  which  were  the  primary  communica5ons  tools  for  rioters.     6  
  • 7. This  is  par5cularly  alarming  because  the  UK’s  speech  laws  are  similar  to  our  First  Amendment.  So  if  the  Bri5sh  government  can  discuss  shuYng  off  the  internet  so  can  ours.  Luckily,  the  Bri5sh  government  made  the  right  choice  and  kept  the  connec5on  switched  on.       7  
  • 8. When  this  kind  of  thing  happens,  as  it  did  in  London,  Mexico,  Egypt,  Libya  and  elsewhere,  we  as  Americans  must  take  no5ce.  Because  as  soon  as  we  take  speech  for  granted,  we’ve  eroded  our  right  to  it.      And  that’s  exactly  what  happened  just  this  summer.         8  
  • 9. In  July  San  Francisco  transit  police  shot  and  killed  this  man,  45  year  old  Charles  Hill.  Ader  Hil’s  death  protests  organized  by  the  now  infamous  hack5vist  group  Anonymous  lasted  for  5  days.         9  
  • 10. The  most  chao5c  moment  of  those  protests  came  when  a  group  of  100  protestors  tried  to  stop  a  commuter  train  from  leaving  the  sta5on.  BART  authori5es,  aware  that  the  internet  inside  the  BART  subway  system  was  being  used  to  coordinate  the  protests,  began  mulling  whether  or  not  to  shut  the  system  down.  Not  the  trains,  the  internet.        Unfortunately,  BART  authori5es  did  temporarily  shut  down  internet  service.  BART  thought  they  were  doing  the  right  thing,  that  they  were  protec5ng  lives  by  breaking  up  the  protests  –  but  ul5mately  their  decision  limited  the  protesters’  ability  to  communicate,  a  fact  that  some  say  makes  that  choice  uncons5tu5onal  and  illegal.     10  
  • 11. What  is  most  eye-­‐opening  about  the  BART  protests  is  that  they  used  the  same  tac5c  as  ousted  Egyp5an  president  Hasni  Mubarek  ader  thousands  of  Egyp5ans  peacefully  converged  on  Tahrir  Square  just  months  prior.     11  
  • 12. As  Mubarak  learned,  turning  off  the  internet  only  served  to  bolster  the  movement  he  was  trying  to  suppress.     12  
  • 13. Oden  in  these  situa5ons,  it  only  takes  one  incident  to  transform  a  protest  into  a  full  blown  revolu5on.  Something  as  common  as  death,  as  we  saw  with  Neda,  Mohamed,  James  and  Charles  is  proof  that  very  li[le  separates  one  event  from  the  other.  As  the  saying  goes,  some  fight  with  guns,  others  fight  with  ideas.         13  
  • 14. And  to  spread  their  ideas,  these  willful  individuals  are  increasingly  turning  to  the  social  tools.  When  those  get  shut  down,  they  use  their  mobiles.  When  their  mobiles  no  longer  work,  they  go  back  to  the  original  medium  –  physical  protest.     14  
  • 15. Occupy  Wall  Street  exemplifies  this  point.  What  started  as  a  series  of  denial  of  service  a[acks  on  governmental  and  media  web  sites  and  Twi[er  accounts  soon  transferred  to  the  streets  of  some  30  American  ci5es.    Though  some  claim  this  movement  is  without  formal  demands,  the  99%,  who  include  people  like  this,  are  telling  the  world  they’re  5red  of  being  bystanders  in  their  own  lives,  of  being  slaves  to  their  debt,     15  
  • 16. …of  not  having  enough  money  to  see  a  doctor.  “I’m  18”  this  college  freshman  writes”…I  haven’t  been  to  the  doctor  since  I  was  14.  I  don’t  know  what  we’re  going  to  do  when  the  money  is  gone.”   16  
  • 17. Another  writes,  “I  have  a  masters  degree  and  a  full  5me  job  in  my  field,  and  I  have  started  selling  my  body  to  pay  off  the  debt.  I  am  the  99%.”   17  
  • 18. These  are  the  people  who  support  Occupy  Wall  Street.  On  Saturday  700  of  them  were  arrested  while  trying  to  march  across  the  Brooklyn  Bridge,  following  two  weeks  of  protests  on  Wall  Street  -­‐-­‐  again  organized  by  Anonymous,  just  blocks  from  where  we  sit  today.  The  99%  are  all  around  us,  they’re  in  this  room  right  now.   18  
  • 19. So  what  can  we  as  marketers  take  away  from  understanding  the  cross-­‐sec5on  of  Free  Speech,  Human  Rights  and  the  Web?  Do  we  as  communicators  have  a  role  in  protec5ng    people’s  right  to  free  speech,  and  what  are  the  consequences  if  we  don’t?  How  should  tech  companies  respond  when  governments  require  them  to  shut  down  the  internet?  How  do  we,  as  an  industry,  protect  the  right  to  speech  that  we  rely  on  to  do  our  jobs?      As  web  communica5ons  companies  are  dragged  into  these  ba[les,  it’s  more  important  than  ever  for  them  to  understand  how  to  navigate  these  troubled  waters;  we  need  to  figure  out  how  to  get  ahead  of  the  problem,  and  see  it  not  as  a  risk  to  our  brands,  but  an  opportunity  to  show  our  customers  that  the  communica5ons  industry  supports  their  rights.  Our  rights.       19  
  • 20. At  the  end  of  the  month,  Facebook,  Google,  Yahoo!,  SKYPE,  Mozilla,  AT&T  and  a  great  number  of  the  world’s  leaders  in  tech  ac5vism,  human  rights,  policy  and  development  are  converging  on  Silicon  Valley  to  discuss  these  very  topics.  The  Silicon  Valley  Human  Rights  Conference  will  be  a[ended  by  progressive  global  brands  and  individuals  like  Gap,  Twi[er,  The  New  York  Times,  Robert  Scoble,  Craig  Newmark,  Assistant  Secretary  of  State  Michael  Posner  and  many  more.  This  event  is  meant  to  help  tech  companies  understand  how  to  approach  these  sensi5ve  topics,  while  maintaining  the  fundamental  human  rights  we  as  Americans  are  bound  to  protect.         20  
  • 21. You  can  learn  more  about  the  conference  at  rightscon.org.       21  
  • 22. If  the  events  of  the  last  year  have  taught  me  anything,  it’s  that  the  process  of  social  change  starts  only  when  people  speak  freely.  In  the  US  we  have  it  pre[y  good,  and  haven’t  needed  to  unite  on  a  na5onal  level  for  a  long  5me.  I  believe  that  what  we’re  seeing  today  is  not  some  kind  of  anarchist  movement,  rather  it’s  an  act  of  restlessness  by  a  society  that  hasn’t  cleared  its  throat  since  the  60s,  when  the  previous  genera5on  banded  together  to  call  for  change.  Today  Americans  are  figh5ng  for  their  right  to  speak,  at  a  5me  when  the  web  is  opening  up  a  new  world  of  informa5on  and  communica5ons  technologies.  The  last  ques5on  I’ll  pose  for  you  today  then  is,  how  will  we,  as  communicators  for  hire,  respond?      Thank  you  and  good  adernoon.         22