Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft Join Human Rights Leaders to Promote Free Expression Through Access to Information Technology
SUNNYVALE, Calif., (RPRN) 5/5/09- — Today, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is hosting a landmark Business & Human Rights Summit at its Sunnyvale campus, bringing together individuals from around the world to raise awareness about freedom of expression and its enduring challenges. The summit includes experts from the business, academic, journalist, human rights and advocacy communities – each with a unique perspective but united in a common desire to advance this fundamental right.
Michael Samway, Yahoo!’s vice president and deputy general counsel said, “Yahoo! was founded on the belief that access to information can enrich people’s lives, and we hope this summit and our other initiatives will both stimulate greater awareness about free expression issues and bring others to this important cause.”
The summit’s keynote speaker is Ory Okolloh, Kenyan blogger and the executive director of Ushahidi. Ushahidi is a crowdsourcing platform for crisis situations developed in Kenya, which now serves as a platform that allows anyone around the world to gather – and map – news about emergent situations by mobile phone, email and the web. Ushahidi has been used in Kenya, the Congo, Gaza and is currently being deployed during the 2009 Indian Lok Sabha election.
In addition, journalists and social entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia and the Middle East will address their efforts to harness the Internet’s capabilities for a range of endeavors involving the sharing of information. In a panel entitled “Social Media and Citizen Journalists,” panelists will discuss how they have used the Internet and social media in their regions to support free expression and drive social change. The panelists include Indian blogger Gaurav Mishra and Ethiopian journalist and former prisoner of conscience Abebe Gellaw, both of whom are currently fellows at Georgetown and Stanford universities (respectively) as part of a Yahoo! initiative to facilitate scholarship on freedom of expression in the information age.
They will be joined by Ushahidi’s Okolloh, Bahraini journalist Amira Al Husseini, and panel moderator Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN Beijing and Tokyo bureau chief.
“As more people around the world turn to the Internet to advocate for human rights, the challenges they face from governments and other powerful entities are also growing more complex and sophisticated. The stories told by our panelists about online activism in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are inspiring. They also show how decisions made by Internet and telecommunications companies can have a big impact on what is and isn’t possible,” noted MacKinnon.
Driving Change with the Global Network Initiative
The summit is an outgrowth of Yahoo!’s recent leadership role in co-fou
nding the Global Network Initiative (GNI), an organization of information and communications technology companies, human rights organizations, academics, investors and technology leaders dedicated to protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communication technology industry.
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) was formed to help stakeholders in the technology industry uphold the rights of freedom of expression and privacy in the face of pressures from governments to comply with laws and policies that violate these internationally recognized human rights.
Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology said, “It takes a proactive, collaborative approach to make significant progress on promoting free expression and Yahoo! has been a thoughtful and committed partner. This summit gives us a great forum to discuss how GNI can help companies around the world to address the complex challenges at the intersection of human rights and technology.”
GNI member companies have committed to protect freedom of expression and privacy, partner with others to ensure collective governance and accountability, and promote GNI objectives throughout the world. GNI participants engage with governments and advocate for change where policies or practices are inconsistent with the protection of free expression and privacy.
At the Summit, a number of GNI participants will participate in a panel – “The GNI’s Multi-Stakeholder Approach” – , including:
â€¢ Chuck Cosson, Senior Policy Counsel, Microsoft;
â€¢ Nicole Wong, Deputy General Counsel, Google;
â€¢ Leslie Harris, President and CEO, Center for Democracy & Technology; Dunstan Hope, Managing Director, ICT Practice, Advisory Services,Business for Social Responsibility;
â€¢ Colin Maclay, Managing Director, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society;
â€¢ Rob Mahoney, Deputy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
â€¢ Ebele Okobi-Harris, Director, Business & Human Rights Program, Yahoo!.
The panel will discuss the goals and principles of the GNI and the ways in which the GNI helps provide clear guidance for technology companies facing threats to freedom of expression around the world.
Promoting Free Expression at Yahoo!
Yahoo! was founded on the principle that promoting access to information can improve lives and advance human rights around the world.
In addition to the formation of the GNI, Yahoo! has continued its own efforts to support user privacy and free expression by:
â€¢ Establishing the Yahoo! Business & Human Rights Program, which brings together an international, cross-functional core team of professionals — including legal, security, government affairs, public affairs, product and emerging markets, among others — to integrate human rights into our business decisions.
â€¢ Developing and instituting a Human Rights Impact Assessment process that includes engaging with external stakeholders, and designing risk mitigation strategies.
â€¢ Working with noted human rights activist Harry Wu to establish a human rights fund to provide humanitarian and legal support to political dissidents who have been imprisoned for expressing their views online, as well as support for their families.
â€¢ Engaging with governments to secure the release of certain political dissidents through ongoing discussions with high-ranking U.S. and Chinese officials, human rights groups, and the State Department.
â€¢ Establishing international fellowships at Stanford University and Georgetown University to support scholarship about free expression in press-restrictive countries and about the intersection of human rights and communication technology.
For more information on Yahoo!’s efforts please visit our new website at http://humanrights.yahoo.com.
Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit pressroom.yahoo.com or the company’s blog, Yodel Anecdotal.
SOURCE: Yahoo! Inc.
Kelley Benander, 408-349-4072
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