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

George Snedeker george.snedeker at verizon.net
Thu Apr 3 12:32:29 MDT 2014

> 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:
> https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_2014_Vienna_Declaration_on_Freedom_of_Information_and_Expression_Petition/
> More information and videos of talks from the Freedom of Information 
> Conference:
> http://freedom-of-information.info/
> https://www.youtube.com/user/transformeurope/feed
> -----------------------
> The 2014 Vienna Declaration on Freedom of Information and Expression
> This petition can be signed online at
> https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_2014_Vienna_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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