LibTech: Return of Practitioners’ Panel

Disclaimer: I have done my best to transcribe the comments of these speakers at the conference on Liberation Technology in Authoritarian Regimes, and I apologize for any errors.

Here are a few of the most interesting tidbits from the second practitioners’ panel:

  • Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy: I’m skeptical of big bureaucratic democracy-building initiatives. I’m more in favor of helping people do what they are already doing, out of the limelight. But I don’t want to let the US government off the hook in taking action in this area. (Paraphrased)
  • Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy: Freedom of the Internet or freedom by the Internet? I think we should be for both. (Paraphrased)
  • Bob Boorstin of Google: It’s dangerous to promise big with regard to Internet freedom without a big plan for realization. Policy movement in any administration is very difficult. (non-panelist commenter)
  • Ali Akbar Mousavi formerly of the Iranian Parliament: Iranian government jams satellite signals, supposedly to prevent the broadcast of pornography. The Cuban government assisted in this, but later stopped.
  • Ali Akbar Mousavi formerly of the Iranian Parliament: Companies like Nokia-Siemens, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE sell wire-tapping, tracking and filtering technology to Iran. Third-party companies also play a role, acting as middle-men.
  • Ali Akbar Mousavi formerly of the Iranian Parliament:The Iranian government has gained access to activists’ Yahoo email accounts, but apparently not yet to Gmail accounts. This may be a result of security features or collaboration with authorities.
  • Nathan Freitas of Guardian Project: If is the Digg of Iran, is Caucasian Knot the Huffington Post of the Caucasus? (non-panelist commenter)
  • Gregory Shvedov of Caucasian Knot: Crowdsourcing is not the same as crowd-sharing. Crowdsourcing is a pull from the center (“You, member of the crowd, give me info”), crowd-sharing is a push (“I, a member of the crowd, want to share this info.”)
  • Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy: On the issue of Liu Xiaobo, China is in the position to really humiliate itself. Why is he still in prison? We should increase pressure on this issue.
  • Troy Etulain of USAID: The $15 million of funding for Internet freedom which the State Department has now was initiated by Congress. The State Department did not request the money. (non-panelist commenter)

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