2017 GNI Annual Public Learning Forum

Internet Freedom and the New Era of Censorship and Surveillance

June 21, 2017. 1pm–6.30pm | Google 25 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, DC

In 2017, threats to freedom of expression and privacy online are escalating around the world.

Democratic and authoritarian governments alike are raising the pressure on internet and telecommunications companies to censor controversial content, while online surveillance programs are coming under renewed public scrutiny.

We invite you to join us for the Global Network Initiative 2017 Public Learning Forum, where experts from companies, human rights and press freedom organizations and academia will discuss emerging issues for global online rights, and what a multi-stakeholder agenda for free expression and privacy can achieve.



1pm – 2.15pm: SESSION 1 – Speech Under Pressure: Reinforcing Global Support for Free Expression Online

Panelists will discuss this new era of government pressure on companies and the free speech of users around the world, including laws and policies aimed at limiting “hate speech” and disinformation, and ones like the “Right to be Forgotten” which may assert their reach across borders.

  • Susan Benesch, Director, Dangerous Speech Project
  • Andy O’Connell, Facebook Global Public Policy
  • K.S. Park, Professor, Korea University Law School and Executive Director, Open Net Korea
  • Sidsela Nyebak, VP – Europe, Group Sustainability, Telenor Group
  • Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists (Moderator)


2.30pm  2.45 pm: GNI Expansion and Welcoming GNI Fellows from the Global South 

  • Bennett Freeman, co-founder and board member of GNI, will introduce the GNI Internews Fellowship Program, and GNI’s recent membership expansion.
  • Danya Centeno, Legal Counsel for R3D, Mexico
  • Carolina Botero, Leader, Group Rights Program for Internet and Society at Fundación Karisma, Colombia


2.45 pm  3.45 pm: SESSION 2 – Surveillance Law Worldwide and the Privacy Rights of “Others” 

As Congress considers the renewal of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, we bring together US and European surveillance experts to explore whether surveillance laws that distinguish between citizen-residents and foreigners are fit for purpose, and what constitutes appropriate oversight and transparency.

  • Adam Klein, Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
  • Stephanie Martz, Director, Reform Government Surveillance Coalition
  • Sarah St.Vincent, National Security and Surveillance Researcher, Human Rights Watch
  • Thorsten Wetzling, Director of the Privacy and Trans-Atlantic Cyber Projects, SNV Berlin
  • Vivek Krishnamurthy, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society (Moderator)


4pm – 5pm: Discussion Forum – Why Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Matters for Global Freedom of Expression and Privacy

Speakers will discuss emerging challenges and opportunities for online privacy and free expression, and how multi-stakeholder collaboration can protect and advance the rights of billions of internet and telecommunications platform users and customers worldwide.

  • Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General and Former UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
  • Nani Jansen Reventlow, Human Rights Lawyer, Doughty Street Chambers and Fellow, Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
  • Christoph Steck, Director Public Policy and Internet, Telefónica
  • Mark Stephens, CBE., Independent Board Chair, GNI (Moderator)