Around the globe, freedom of expression (or free speech) varies wildly in definition, scope, and level of access. The impact of the digital age on perceptions and censorship of speech has been felt across the political spectrum on a worldwide scale. In the debate over what counts as free expression and how it should work in practice, we often lose sight of how different forms of censorship—of hate speech, for example—can have a negative impact on different communities, and especially marginalized or vulnerable ones.
Speaking Freely brings forth interviews with human rights workers, free expression advocates, and activists from a variety of disciplines and affiliations. The common thread in these interviews is that curtailing free expression, via public or private censorship, can harm our ability to fully and authentically participate in an open society.
Speaking Freely: Ada Palmer
Ada Palmer is a Renaissance historian whose work lies at the intersection of ideas and historical change. She is currently on research leave from the University of Chicago, where she teaches early modern European history. In this interview, we talk about censorship during the Inquisition, and how that parallels to today’s online censorship challenges.
Speaking Freely: Ahmet Alphan Sabancı
Ahmet Alphan Sabancı is a Turkish digital activist who works on free expression, security and privacy. He's the founder of NewsLabTurkey and has contributed to EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense. Ahmet spoke to me about his journey to becoming an activist, and what it's like to fight back against Turkey's censorship apparatus.
Speaking Freely: Rima Sghaier
Rima Sghaier is a human rights activist and researcher who works at the intersection of technology and human rights, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. Rima grew up in Tunisia under the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, which lasted for twenty-four years. We discussed the impact of Tunisian internet censorship and much more.
Speaking Freely: Biella Coleman
Gabriella “Biella” Coleman is an anthropologist whose work focuses on a range of subjects, from the anthropology of medicine to the practice of whistleblowing. To EFF readers, she is probably best known for her work on hacker communities. In 2014, she published the book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (Verso). We discussed medical misinformation and much more.
Speaking Freely: Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir
Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir is a former Pirate Party member of the Icelandic parliament who currently serves as a digital policy advisor to a member of the European parliament. She’s known online for her passion for the Internet and digital policy, as well as her love of golden retrievers.
Speaking Freely: Addie Wagenknecht
Addie Wagenknecht is an artist and researcher based between the U.S. and Europe. We met a few years back when she invited me to be part of Deep Lab, a “collaborative group of cyberfeminist researchers, artists, writers, engineers, and cultural producers” that she co-founded in 2014. In this interview, we talked about art and free expression.
Speaking Freely: Evan Greer
Evan Greer is many things: A musician, an activist for LGBTQ issues, the Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, and a true believer in the free and open internet. Evan is a longtime friend of EFF, and it was great to chat with her about the state of free expression, and what we should be doing to protect the Internet for future activism.
Speaking Freely: Christian Frank
Christian Frank is a freelance IT consultant who was born and raised, and currently resides, in Cologne, Germany. Last year, he did some work protesting the Article 13 demonstrations in Europe, a topic that he remains passionate about. We discussed many things, including the internet as—to use Christian’s words—“another living space” that we need to keep fighting to protect.
Speaking Freely: Cristian León
Cristian León, based in Buenos Aires, works for Asuntos del Sur, a “think/do tank” that works to strengthen democracy and participation. Originally from Bolivia, Cristian works on open government and democracy across several countries in Latin America. We discussed free expression and surveillance in the region.
Speaking Freely: Sandra Ordoñez
Sandra (Sandy) Ordonez is dedicated to protecting women being harassed online. Sandra is an experienced community engagement specialist, a proud NYC Latina resident of Sunset Park Brooklyn, and a recipient of Fundación Carolina’s Hispanic Leadership Award. She is also a long-time diversity and inclusion advocate, with extensive experience incubating and creating FLOSS and Internet Freedom community tools.