The Digital Defenders Partnership aims to keep the internet open and free from emerging threats.
Speaking at the inaugural Freedom Online conference last December, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that all human beings are entitled to express their views, practice their faith and peacefully assemble with others to pursue political or social change. “And just as we have worked together since the last century to secure these rights in the material world, we must work together in this century to secure them in cyberspace,” she said:
“This is an urgent task. It is most urgent, of course, for those around the world whose words are now censored, who are imprisoned because of what they or others have written online, who are blocked from accessing entire categories of internet content, or who are being tracked by governments seeking to keep them from connecting with one another.”
At a follow-up conference in Nairobi in early September, members of the Internet Freedom Online Coalition got together to launch the Digital Defenders Partnership, which will provide emergency support for Internet users under threat for peacefully exercising their universal rights through new technologies. As an initial investment, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States each kicked in a total of over 2.5 million Euros.
The Digital Defenders Partnership aims to keep the internet open and free from emerging threats by providing emergency support for bloggers, cyber activists, journalists and human rights defenders who find themselves under attack while promoting and protecting human rights and democracy.
Thus the partnership will award grants to help establishing internet connections to replace those that have been cut off or are being restricted, provide protection for bloggers and digital activists, and will develop the tools needed to respond to emergencies.
“This is a world . . . . where citizens of some . . . . countries remain trapped and isolated behind firewalls that stunt not just their political freedom but ultimately their economic opportunities,” said Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner at the Nairobi conference. “We must do everything possible to oppose what amounts to information curtain created by national governments that do not want their own people to have full and free access to the Internet.”