March 12: "World Day Against Cyber-Censorship"

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Reporters Without Borders is holding its annual online rally, the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship today. The day is intended to draw attention to the ways that governments around the world are deterring and censoring free speech online. With the recent cyberbattles fought here in the United States, across north Africa, and in China, it's a good day to take stock of how the Internet's role as conduit for speech is shaped by the sociopolitical context in which people access it. That is to say, the Internet may tilt the balance towards the release of more information, but its technical can't create freer or more open societies alone.

Launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2008, World Day Against Cyber-Censorship (on 12 March 2011) is intended to rally everyone in support of a single Internet without restrictions and accessible to all.

The fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever. By creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet is a force for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the Internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely.

However, more and more governments have realised this and are reacting by trying to control the Internet. Never have so many countries been affected by some form of online censorship, whether arrests or harassment of netizens, online surveillance, website blocking or the adoption of repressive Internet laws. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals.

Around 117 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online, mainly in China, Iran and Vietnam. World Day Against Cyber-Censorship pays tribute to them and their fight for Internet freedom. Reporters Without Borders will mark the occasion by issuing its latest list of "Enemies of the Internet."

Read the full story at Reporters Without Borders.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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