Kathleen Reen, vice president for Asia and New Media programs at Internews, delivered the Feb. 9 Liberation Technology Seminar on the topic of "Strategies and Support for a Global Open Internet." Internews is an international non-profit organization, which pushes the boundaries of independent journalism, empowering media and providing uncensored news and information worldwide. The organization works with independent media outlets to make tools from the bleeding edge of human rights activism more widely available.
In her talk, Reen stressed that the problem of digital safety has become mainstream. Issues of Internet security, including malware and phishing expeditions, have infiltrated civil society. In response, Internews has created tech leaderships to teach the basics of safe computing, and to encourage awareness and participation. Internews has teamed up with ad agencies to make security tools available in countries experiencing heavy Internet censorship. Reen's talk highlighted the importance of investing in development platforms and data integrity to keep these tools effective and safe.
Reen then turned to the American experience of the Internet. The question of how much the U.S. government will continue to control the Internet is hotly debated. Alternative theories for Internet governance have been submitted to the U.N., some advocating for separate, nationally led Internets. Reen called attention to the extreme vulnerability of the American experience of the Internet, including the ability to earn livelihood online and to access uncensored data. Reen encouraged the audience to engage in these critical discussions to think twice about aspects of the American Internet experience that are unique and in peril.