World Day Against Cyber Censorship
annually on March 12th (since 2008)
Reporters Without Borders in 2008
The internet can be a place of freedom, where the exchanging of information and ideas happens without restriction. But some governments attempt to control it, through censorship and surveillance. There have even been arrests and detentions of internet users in some countries. World Day Against Cyber Censorship was created to help support a "single, unrestricted internet" that's accessible to everyone, and "to draw attention to the ways that governments around the world are deterring and censoring free speech online." It was created by Reporters Without Borders, an international non-governmental organization based out of Paris that fights for freedom of the press.
World Day Against Cyber Censorship was first celebrated in 2008, after Jean-François Julliard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, along with Larry Cox, the Executive Director of Amnesty International, sent a letter to the CEOs of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, requesting the day be observed. Reporters Without Borders has since given out a Netizen Prize on the day, which honors a person or group who has contributed to the defense of online freedom of speech and expression. They also created a logo for the day, consisting of a computer mouse breaking away from a chain.
In 2006, two years before the creation of the holiday, Reporters Without Borders started their Enemies of the Internet list, which names countries that restrict the internet, repress its users, and censor news and information online. The following year they added a Countries Under Surveillance category, which outlined countries headed in the wrong direction when it comes to internet freedom. After the holiday started in 2008, they began updating these lists on the day. The United States was added to the Enemies of the Internet list in 2014. It was also this year when the list broadened to not only focus on censorship but on surveillance as well.
How to Observe World Day Against Cyber Censorship
Celebrate the day by working for an internet free of censorship and surveillance. Here are some ideas on how to spend the day:
- Read information and reports about online freedoms around the world at Freedom on the Net.
- Learn about internet filtering around the world with the OpenNet Initiative.
- Support groups such as Reporters Without Borders or the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- Read a book about internet censorship.
- See if your representative(s) support a free and open internet by supporting net neutrality.
- Share information and ideas on the internet!