SEGMENT 2: REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS DC DIRECTOR DELPHINE HALGAND
1. New Report List 5 Companies as Enemies of the Internet
On March 12th, the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders is releasing a Special report on Internet surveillance, available at surveillance.rsf.org/en. It looks at the way governments are increasingly using technology that monitors online activity and intercepts electronic communication in order to arrest journalists, citizen-journalists and dissidents. Around 180 netizens worldwide are currently in prison for providing news and information online.
For this year’s “Enemies of the Internet” report, Reporters Without Borders has identified Five State Enemies of the Internet, five “spy” states that conduct systematic online surveillance that results in serious human rights violations. They are Syria, China, Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam. Surveillance in these countries targets dissidents and has grown in recent months. Cyber-attacks and intrusions, including the use of malware against dissidents and their networks, are on the increase.
. . . Without advanced technology, authoritarian regimes would not be able to spy on their citizens. Reporters Without Borders has for the first time compiled a list of five “Corporate Enemies of the Internet,” five private sector companies that it regards as “digital era mercenaries” because they sell products that are used by authoritarian governments to commit violations of human rights and freedom of information. They are Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat.
2. Reporters Without Borders Files Complaint Against Internet Enemies
Human rights organisations file formal complaints against surveillance software firms Gamma International and Trovicor with British and German governments.
Reporters Without Borders Germany, Reporters Without Borders International, Privacy International, Bahrain Watch, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights filed formal complaint with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) against a surveillance software company on Friday 1st February. The OECD National Contact Points National Contact Points (NCPs) in the UK is being asked to investigate Gamma International with regards to the company’s potential complicity in serious human rights abuses in Bahrain. A corresponding complaint against Munich-based Trovicor will be filed in Germany on Wednesday 6th February.
3. Reporters Without Borders Releases 2013 Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders released its 2013 Press Freedom Index.
The Nordic countries have again demonstrated their ability to maintain an optimal environment for news providers. Finland (1st, 0), Netherlands (2nd, +1) and Norway (3rd, -2) have held on to the first three places. Canada (20th, -10) only just avoided dropping out of the top 20. Andorra (5th) and Liechtenstein (7th) have entered the index for the first time just behind the three leaders. At the other end of the index, the same three countries as ever – Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea – occupy the last three places in the index. Kim Jong-un’s arrival at the head of the Hermit Kingdom has not in any way changed the regime’s absolute control of news and information. Eritrea (179th, 0), which was recently shaken by a brief mutiny by soldiers at the information ministry, continues to be a vast open prison for its people and lets journalists die in detention. Despite its reformist discourse, the Turkmen regime has not yielded an inch of its totalitarian control of the media.
. . . . [T]he United States rose 15 places to 32nd, recovering a ranking more appropriate to the “country of the First Amendment.” Its previous year’s fall was due to the fact that the crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement did not spare reporters in the field.
4. Reporters Without Borders Releases Report on Burma Spring
Reporters Without Borders is today releasing a report entitled “The Burmese Spring” about the rapid progress that freedom of information has made in Burma, but also about the limits of this progress and the dangers it faces. The international community is witnessing an unprecedented democratic transition in this Southeast Asian country after half a century of military dictatorship. But, as things stand, the possibility of the reforms being perverted cannot be ruled out.
5. Reporters Without Borders Announces Netizen of the Year
Reporters Without Borders chose the nominees and more than 40,000 Internet users visited the YouTube site from around the world. They selected the winner on Reporters’ You Tube Channel. The award ceremony will take place in Paris on March 12 at the Google office on the occasion of the World Day against Cyber Censorship.
Huynh Ngoc Chenh is one of Vietnam’s most influential blogger. His blog attracts about 15,000 visitors per day, even though readers must use software to circumvent censorship to gain access. Chenh criticizes the government and defends freedom of expression. He focuses on issues of democracy, human rights and the territorial disputes between Vietnam and China. Authorities have threatened him numerous times for his articles and police monitor his communications.
“This award represents an inspiration to me as well as for all bloggers, independent journalists in Vietnam, those who face the restrictions about the right of freedom of expression,” Huynh Ngoc Chenh said by telephone from Ho Chi Minh City. “It demonstrates the world community’s support and will make us more audacious in raising our concerns and continue our struggle for freedom of information. It will help people scared off and speaking out.”
Vietnam is on the list of “Enemies of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders and is the 172nd out of 179 in the latest World Press Freedom Index. Bloggers and other netizens are facing particular repression. Their relatives are also harassed and threatened. The authorities have stepped up efforts to increase surveillance and remove “sensitive” contents. On January 9, 14 dissidents – including 8 bloggers and citizen-journalists – were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 13 years.
With 31 bloggers and citizen-journalists currently behind bars, Vietnam is the third largest prison in the world for netizens behind China and Oman.
Delphine Halgand, Washington DC Director
Delphine has been working as the Director of the Washington DC office for Reporters Without Borders since December 2011. She runs the US activities for the organization and advocates for journalists, bloggers and media rights worldwide. Acting as RWB’s spokesperson in the US, Delphine regularly appears on American (PBS, Wall Street Journal,…), foreign media (Al Jazeera, NTN24,…) and lectures at conferences in US universities (Harvard University, UCLA,…) on press freedom violation issues. Previously, she served as Press attaché in charge of outreach at the French Embassy to the US. Since graduating from Sciences Po Paris with an M.A. in Journalism, Delphine has worked as an economics corespondent for various French media (Le Monde, Les Echos, L’Express,…), focusing mainly on international politics and macroeconomic issues. You can contact Delphine by email and follow her@DelphineHalgand