Worldwide, one in three web users does not have unrestricted, free Internet acces. The Arab Spring demonstrated the Internet’s role as a mobilisation and information tool .
THE INTERNET CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
Netizens now play an essential role in the vanguard of news coverage worldwide. However, more and more often, they are becoming victims of threats and censorship by governments who fear this new cyberspace of freedom.
CREATION OF THE « NEW MEDIA DESK »IN 2001
Confronted by these new challenges, over a decade ago, Reporters Without Borders reacted by restructuring and creating a New Media Desk. The organisation was one of the first generalist NGOs to focus on this new sphere : netizen protection and the defence of freedom of expression on the Internet.
12 MARCH, WORLD DAY AGAINST CYBER CENSORSHIP
In 2008, Reporters Without Borders launched its World Day Against Cybercensorship to pay tribute to all netizens who continue to express themselves freely despite repression. On this occasion, the association issues a report on freedom of information in cyberspace and an “Enemies of the Internet” list which identifies those countries that are censoring the Web and harassing internet users.
NETIZEN PRIZE »
The Netizen Prize is awarded to a blogger or cyberdissident whose outstanding efforts have contributed to freedom of expression on the Internet. In 2011, the Prize went to Tunisian blog Nawaat for the crucial role it played in covering the Jasmine Revolution. In 2012, it was awarded to the media centres of Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC Syria).
On 24 June 2010, the first “Anti-Censorship Shelter” was inaugurated in the organisation’s Paris bureau as a space where foreign journalists, bloggers and dissidents who are refugees or passing through Paris can learn how to circumvent Internet censorship and protect their electronic communications while maintaining their anonymity online. The shelter makes available to the journalists online censorship circumvention and anonymity protection tools, including :
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), which guarantees anonymity and allows users to access blocked websites.
Several Internet censorship circumvention and encryption software programmes, and related user manuals.
A website that publishes censored content, thereby providing a means for those pages to be read, and a way to defeat the purpose of their government’s censorship.
A digital vault that provides cybernauts wishing to entrust Reporters Without Borders with sensitive data to do so in a secure manner.
Reporters Without Borders strives to provide as much support as possible to netizens who are defending freedom of expression despite strong opposition from their repressive governments. The organisation also monitors potentially dangerous practices undertaken by democratic countries which could lead to them implementing Web control measures.
WE FIGHT CENSORSHIP
WeFC published documents that have been censored or banned or has given rise to reprisals against its creator (assassination, arrest, harassment, pressure). This original website’s aim is to make censorship obsolete. It is an unprecedented initiative that will enable Reporters Without Borders to complement all of its other activities in defence of freedom of information. The website hosts content (articles, photos, videos, sounds) in their original language (chinese, russian, arabic, spanish etc.) and an english and french translation.
This website aims to exploit the so-called ‘Streisand effect,’ under which the more you try to censor content online, the more the Internet community tends to circulate it. It shows that jailing an article’s author, seizing copies of a newspaper or blocking access to a website with a certain video can prove very counter-productive and can result in the content going around the world.
The content selected by the WeFC editorial committee is accompanied by a description of the context and creator. It may also be accompanied by copies of documents relating to the proceedings under which it was banned or other documents that might help the public to understand its importance.