Tag Archives: Free Expression

Showcasing tolerance From Berlin to Budapest

At a time when racism is on the rise in Europe, reportedly reaching its worst level since the 1980s, it is more more important than ever to stand up against scapegoating of migrants and minorities. Two initiatives highlight our commitment to tolerance.

In Germany, we kicked off a new edition this month of the YouTube 361 Grad Respekt combating social exclusion and (cyber-)bullying. This YouTube youth competition runs five video camps across the country, helping students script and shoot videos. You can also participate from home using a webcam or make a video with your smartphone or tablet. Tell us all what makes you strong, talk about your experiences, give others courage, and inspire and motivate them to submit their own statement about showing more respect. Share the video and upload here.

Submissions from the five video camps will be presented one by one on www.youtube.de/361grad until September. Keep checking the channel. After only two days live, the site had received more than 500,000 views!

In Hungary, we’re well into our second year of an exciting program called WeAreOpen. It’s rallying cry is: "Being open is not only the right thing to do, but it's also worth it." To date, more than 750 companies, communities and organisations, big and small, have signed up in support. This year’s version launched in March with a social media campaign to counter hate speech. Musicians, actors, celebrities, and Internet users (including students, doctors and teachers) shared their own experiences, taking a stand against prejudice, showing support for Roma, lesbians, gays, Jews and handicapped. Their videos have received more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

At July’s Budapest Pride march, WeAreOpen supplied an army of colorful balloons and invited everyone to join. The march was live streamed the on YouTube and more than 20,000 watched it live.

This year's WeAreOpen 2014 features research from the Gemius consulting firm about diversity and tolerance at the workplace. It found that more than half of Hungarian employees have already encountered negative discrimination.

The virus of hatred, unfortunately, will not vanish. 361 Grad Respekt, WeAreOpen and many more initiatives promoting tolerance are urgently needed.

Defending digital freedom with Index On Censorship

It’s not always that a private corporation and a civil rights NGO see eye to eye on key issues. But this is the case for Google and Index on Censorship.

For the fourth year in a row, we worked with Index on its annual awards event, which took place last evening at London's Barbican Centre. This ongoing relationship reflects our common concerns about the ongoing and increasing government crackdown against the free and open Internet. Index has made a strong move to invest in the defense not just of print, radio and tv freedom - but also with us in defence of online freedom.

When we first learned about Digital Freedom Award, we were immediately impressed with its motto - celebrating the fundamental right to "write, blog, tweet, speak out, protest and create art and literature and music." Google aims to provide a platform to promote just such a fundamental right. The Digital Freedom Award recognizes the original use of new technology to foster debate, argument or dissent.

Google Digital Journalism Award winner Shubhranshu Choudhary
Let’s be clear: Total editorial control remains with Index. Index, not us, chooses the nominees. Until now, distinguished juries have selected winners. But this year, we worked with Index on an innovation - asking the public to vote by filling in an online form.

This year’s nominees came from China, India, the U.S., and appropriately enough, cyberspace! There was whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose actions are well-known.

There was the Chinese microblogging Weibo, an uncensored version of China’s biggest social network, SinaWeibo. Free Weibo keeps track of and publishes everything which has been censored and deleted by the government, providing a fascinating insight into the regime’s priorities and fears.

There was TAILS - the Incognoto Amnesiac Live Operating System. Its open-source encryption tool helps protect the free online communication of journalists and sources in any country, regardless of official limits on free expression.

The winner came from India, journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary. He’s the brains behind CGNet Swara (Voice of Chhattisgarh) a mobile-phone (no smartphone required) service that allows citizens to upload and listen to local reports in their own dialect.

Please join us in congratulating Shubhranshu - and all the free-expression champions who shines a light on their ongoing struggle against censorship around the world.

Vote for Digital Defender of the Year

For the past 14 years the Index on Censorship Awards have honoured some of the most remarkable fighters for free expression from around the world - from assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya to Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat to education activist Malala Yousafzai. Until now, distinguished juries have selected all the winners. But this year, we’re working with Index on an innovation - asking the public to vote for the digital activist award, which honours the person who has done the most to defend online freedom.

Take a look at the nominees and vote here. Voting finishes next Monday, February 3, so please do act fast.

This is the fourth year Google has worked with Index on its annual awards event. Total editorial control remains with Index; they choose the nominees. We are just delighted to support this important organization’s new and important work in defence of online freedom. For a taste of the excitement surrounding the ceremony, watch last year’s highlight video below.

This year’s awards ceremony take place on Thursday March 20, 6.30pm, at the Barbican Centre in London. In addition to the digital defender award, three other awards will be given out, one for journalism, one for advocacy and one for arts. Tickets are available, so please do join us to celebrate free-expression champions and shine a light on their ongoing struggle against censorship around the world.