May 3, 2013 | By Jillian York

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

Twenty years ago today, the United Nations (UN) established World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of press freedom and remind governments of their duties under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year’s official celebration, sponsored by the UN, highlights what EFF has known for a long time: that free expression is an imperative for all media, from online newspapers to blogs to sites like Twitter and Facebook.

As the Eskinder Nega case demonstrates, the lines between "traditional" and "online" journalist (or blogger) have becoming increasingly blurred the world over. Indeed, while traditional journalists still face harassment, imprisonment, and even death at alarmingly high rates, the number of Internet users facing threats in recent years is evidence that approaches to advocating press freedom must become more inclusive.

Fortunately, the UN recognizes that as well.  A joint statement issued by Ban Ki-Moon and Irina Bokova (Director General of UNESCO) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day notes the following:

Action must encompass both traditional media and the digital world, where news is increasingly produced and consumed. Bloggers, citizen reporters and social media producers, as well as their sources, face increasing threats to their safety. In addition to physical dangers, they are being targeted with psychological and emotional violence through cyber-attacks, data breaches, intimidation, undue surveillance and invasions of privacy.

Such assaults not only limit the right to freedom of expression and threaten the safety of online journalists and their sources -- they undermine the ability of all people to benefit from a free and open Internet.

We couldn’t agree more. We continue to fight for the rights of all Internet users everywhere.


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