This year, the 6th annual International Right to Know Day fell on Tuesday the 28th September. So, to mark the day, we hosted a webinar to discuss access to information and open, transparent governance. Our panellists share their experiences of litigating against the new tactics being used by powerful actors to obstruct newsgathering.
From the US, to Poland, to Brazil, politicians and government officials are frequently blocking journalists on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. This despite the fact that they are increasingly using these same social media platforms as their main communication channel to share policy and shape opinion. Given social media’s growing importance, this ‘blocking’ constitutes a worrying trend.
In an even more drastic move, the Nigerian government has now banned Twitter entirely. Following Twitter’s decision to take down a tweet that violated its guidelines, the Nigerian government responded with an indefinite ban.
These are just some examples of the cases we discuss in our International Right to Know Day webinar. We recognise that powerful actors are using these blocks and bans as yet another tool to clamp down on free speech. Furthermore, by barring critical journalists from accessing information, governments can avoid accountability.
The issue is a relatively recent one, highlighting challenges in a world of new technology. The cases we’ve seen at Media Defence raise important questions about how we ensure the protection of freedom of expression and access to information on new public platforms.
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Taís Gasparian is a Brazilian lawyer, specialising in freedom of expression. She is counsel to Abraji* in a lawsuit against the Brazilian president.
Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga is a Nigerian lawyer and human rights advocate.
Konrad Siemaszko is a Polish lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
* Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo, or ABRAJI).
** The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights was established in 1989 to promote human rights and the rule of law, as well as to contribute to the development of the open society in Poland.
To view our previous webinar on SLAPPS, click here.
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