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[liberationtech] Sign the Freedom of Information and Expression-Declaration!

Jillian C. York jilliancyork at
Thu Apr 3 11:27:30 PDT 2014

Just out of curiosity, why another Declaration?  Don't get me wrong, I
don't think there's any harm here, but there are at least half a dozen
similar projects, most of which have been done in the past few years.  See:








On Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 8:58 AM, Christian Fuchs <christian.fuchs at>wrote:

> 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
> Sign:
> Declaration_on_Freedom_of_Information_and_Expression_Petition/
> More information and videos of talks from the Freedom of Information
> Conference:
> -----------------------
> The 2014 Vienna Declaration on Freedom of Information and Expression
> This petition can be signed online at
> Declaration_on_Freedom_of_Information_and_Expression_Petition/
> 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
> Kingdom)
> 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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"We must not be afraid of dreaming the seemingly impossible if we want the
seemingly impossible to become a reality" - *Vaclav Havel*
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