Defending free speech online

The first day of the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit will feature several panels on matters relating to censorship and online freedom of speech. It will be devoted to discuss the challenges facing freedom of expression and debate the state of censorship and anti-censorship efforts in the world.
We strongly believe that bringing together core activists from different local anti-censorship groups, NGO's representatives and tools developers in a face-to-face meeting will stimulate an in-depth discussion of projects and build a stronger interpersonal ties, leading to a more robust, committed and effective online anti-censorship movement.
Following is an incomplete list of Global Voices Advocacy guests. These attendees have volunteered short biographies in advance of the conference. If you are a GVA guest and would like to contribute your own biography please send it to Sami Ben Gharbia at: advocacy [ at ]

Ethan Zuckerman

is a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. His research in the field of information and communication technology for development includes work on telecommunications policy, free and open source software, and citizen media. With Rebecca MacKinnon, he is the co-founder of Global Voices, an award-winning international community of webloggers and citizen journalists. Prior to his work with Berkman and Global Voices, Ethan founded Geekcorps, a volunteer organization which sent technology experts to work with ICT companies in the developing world. He is the former CTO of, a pioneering web hosting company based in Western Massachusetts, where he lives and works. He serves as advisor to several nonprofit projects that focus on technology and social change, and serves on the board of Open Society Institute's US Program. His personal blog, “My Heart's in Accra” is located at

Rebecca MacKinnon

is a veteran journalist, China hand, and online media pioneer. In January 2007 she joined the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Center, where she teaches online journalism and conducts research on the Chinese Internet, free expression and corporate responsibility. She also serves as Public Lead for Creative Commons Hong Kong. Before coming to Hong Kong MacKinnon was a Research Fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where she co-founded Global Voices with Ethan Zuckerman. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, MacKinnon worked for CNN in Northeast Asia for over a decade, serving as CNN’s Beijing Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 1998-2001 and as CNN’s Tokyo Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 2001-03. She has also covered major news events in North and South Korea, Pakistan, and the Philippines. MacKinnon writes and speaks frequently on the future of journalism in the Internet age, the Internet and censorship in China, and issues of free expression and corporate responsibility. Her blog is

Nart Villeneuve

is a PHD student at the University of Toronto and a senior research fellow at the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies. His research focuses on Internet architecture and governance with a particular emphasis on censorship and freedom of expression. He has developed and conducted Internet censorship testing in over 40 countries worldwide as part of the OpenNet Initiative. His personal blog is

Elijah Zarwan

is a Cairo-based consultant to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Eurasia Group. He has advised the Open Net Initiative and Freedom House on freedom of expression and information in the Middle East and North Africa. He previously worked as an editor and journalist in Cairo and New York, most recently as managing editor of Cairo Magazine.

Danny O'Brien

is International Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group working to protect speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights online since 1990. He has performed in the West End, written for the Irish Times, Guardian and Time Magazine, and founded the Open Rights Group, a British digital rights advocacy organization.

Rob Faris

is the research director at the Berkman Center where he contributes and provides oversight to several major research projects that focus on the interrelationship of economic development, media, politics, governance and free speech on the Internet. His current research includes the study of global Internet censorship and surveillance in conjunction with the OpenNet Initiative, the influence of networked digital technologies on democracy and governance, the evolving role of new media in politics. Rob has over ten years of experience with designing and managing international applied policy research projects. Rob has worked extensively in Latin America and Asia on issues related to economic development, public policy and environmental management, while holding positions at the Harvard Institute for International Development and Harvard’s Center for International Development. Prior to joining the Berkman Center, Rob held a research position at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he managed a series of projects in Panama and Mexico to develop and apply multidisciplinary computer simulation tools to complex public policy decisions with the aim of fostering greater public participation in collective decisions. Rob holds a M.A. and PhD. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Roger Dingledine

is project leader for The Tor Project, a US non-profit working on anonymity research and development. While at MIT he developed Free Haven, one of the early peer-to-peer systems that emphasized resource management while maintaining anonymity for its users. He works with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the US Navy, Voice of America, and other organizations to design and develop systems for anonymity and traffic analysis resistance. He organizes academic conferences on anonymity, speaks at such events as Blackhat, Defcon, Toorcon, CCC congresses, and What the Hack, and also does tutorials on anonymity for national and foreign law enforcement. Roger was honored in 2006 as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review magazine.

Ory Okolloh

is a lawyer, a political activist and a blogger. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is the co-founder of Mzalendo a website that tracks the performance of Kenyan Members of Parliament. She is also the co-founder of Ushahidi, a website that grew out of the political crisis in Kenya and that maps both incidents of violence and peace efforts. She is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa where she works as a consultant for several NGOs and manages her various activism efforts.

Helmi Noman

is a research affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He researches Internet censorship practices and related laws, the demographics and usage patterns of Arab Internet users, and Arabic Web content.

John Kennedy

is Chinese Language Editor for Global Voices Online and currently resides in Southern China. He blogs in Chinese as feng37 at Tiananmen 2.0 but spends most of his time on Twitter. His interests lie in the application of low- to mid-level technologies toward free speech or media activism, most notably through the use of SMS to report live the PX protest in Xiamen, China in June 2007 and most recently, livevlogging. Future prospects: using geek skills to provide media support for grassroots NGOs, and exploring the blogger-as-politician model seen recently in Malaysia.

Clothilde Le Coz

Head of the Reporters without borders‘ Internet Freedom desk.
I have been working for RWB for a little more than 6 months. I am graduated in political sciences and journalism. I studied in the South East of France (Grenoble) and came to Paris a year ago to work for a review on French media critics. Working for RWB was a good opportunity to wshow that a journalist can be engaged ni a cause and show his/her opinion.

Isaac Mao

is a venture capitalist, blogger, software architect, entrepreneur and researcher in learning and social technology. As one of the earliest bloggers in the Chinese community, Isaac is not only co-founder of which is the earliest evangelizing site in China on grassroots publishing, but also the co-organizer of Chinese Blogger Conference (2005 in Shanghai, 2006 in Hangzhou,2007 in Beijing). The CNBlog program then transformed itself into Social Brain Foundation (SBF) later on to promote Social Media and free culture in China covering Free Access, Free Speech and Free Thinking areas. The current project SBF is supporting includes Ideas Factory, Memedia, Digital Nomads, Open Education and Creative Commons China, etc. Mao ever made several waves in the technology and business world especially with his open letter to Google founders, chanllenging the search engine giant to support anti-censorship effrots and change its China strategy. He always holds a strong voice against censorship in China and nominated as winner of Index on Censorship Journalism Award.

Paul Maassen

is the programme manager of the ICT & Media programme of Hivos, a Dutch development organisation, and is based in The Hague. This programme has three main components: supporting civil society in the strategic use of ICT; working on media diversity through digital media and citizen journalism, and the whole area of expression under repression (from policy to technology). He holds a MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management (specialisations in non-western management, information management and finance) and worked for Dutch Telecom before joining Hivos in 2002.

Wael Abbas

is a Cairo-based citizen-journalist and blogger who blogs at Misr Digital (Egyptian Awareness).Wael is the first blogger ever to be given the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award for his work on documenting human rights violations through online video.

Xiao Qiang

is director of the China Internet Project and an adjunct professor for the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of China Digital Times, an independent China news portal. Xiao teaches classes on Participatory Media/Collective Action and Covering China in both the Graduate School of Journalism and the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He also researches and writes about the impact of information and communication technologies on China's media, politics, and international relations. Xiao studied theoretical physics at the University of Science and Technology of China and from there entered the University of Notre Dame astrophysics PhD program from 1986 to 1989. He was the former Executive Director of Human Rights in China from 1991 to 2002 and vice-chairman of the steering committee of the World Movement for Democracy. Xiao was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 2001, and is profiled in the book Soul Purpose: 40 People Who Are Changing the World for the Better, (Melcher Media, 2003). He was also a visiting fellow of the Santa Fe Institute in 2002.

Chris Salzberg

is a writer/translator and graduate student living in Tokyo, Japan. I am the Japanese language editor for Global Voices (with Hanako Tokita), and also involved in various other participatory media projects. I have written about Internet censorship issues in Japan for mainstream media and blogs, and have been quoted on the topic by papers such as the Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald.

Mary Joyce

is the co-founder of, a digital activism organization dedicated to helping grassroots activists around the world use cell phones and the Internet to increase their impact. She ran her first digital activism web site,, from 2005 to 2007 while living in Morocco and Chile. She currently lives in Boston, where she is a master's candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a research assistant for the Internet and Democracy Project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. . She blogs as

Chris Walker

For the past two years, Chris has worked on issues related to information security and human rights for international non-governmental organizations, including the Tactical Technology Collective (TTC). In this capacity, he has offered technical training, implemented software and systems prototypes, and provided extensive project management assistance for large-scale, security-related Information and Communication Technology (ICT) efforts. He has a Bachelor's degree in computer science and a Master's degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, where he studied practical, theoretical and technical coursework relevant to the interplay between ICT and human rights in the developing world and in closed societies. Chris strives to maintain a low-level grounding in computer and network security while nurturing a high-level perspective on legal, political and activist approaches to the issues surrounding telecommunications, open media, democracy, and international security policy. In addition to the academic background mentioned above, Chris has a professional network security auditing certification and substantial teaching experience that encompasses both academic subjects and practical, hands-on training.

Daudi Were

Daudi Were

is an experienced African and Kenyan blogger and a firm believer in the power of interactive citizen media to transform the world in general and the African continent in particular for the better. Daudi has been blogging for the last 7 years. Currently his blog is at Daudi founded and runs the Kenyan Blogs Webring hosted at Other new media projects Daudi has been involved in included the African Women Bloggers Webring, and Ushahidi as well as speaking at various new media conferences such as the Digital Citizens’ Indaba. When not blogging or thinking about blogging Daudi runs a social aware citizen web media company called ThreeStones based in Nairobi Kenya.


started blogging in April 2003 at The Third World View, which tries to portray Bangladesh and Bangladeshis beyond the typical headlines seen in news. I have seen the Bangladeshi blogosphere grow and have been bridge blogging in Global Voices since 2005. I have been instrumental in setting up an online archive for the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971 in the hands of the Paksitani Army. My passion is now enriching the Global Voices Bangla.

Nasser Weddady

HAMSA-AIC Civil Rights Outreach Director. A native of Mauritania, Nasser grew up in Libya and Syria, traveling extensively through the Middle East, before coming to the US as a refugee in 2000. A long-time activist in the struggle to end slavery in his homeland and dictatorship, Nasser has organized conferences for young activists across the Middle East; published in the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Baltimore Sun; appeared on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, and Radio Liberty; and testified to Congress’ Human Rights Caucus. Fluent in five languages, Nasser has lectured at the US Institute of Peace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and diverse interfaith settings.

CJ Hinke

is a writer, academic, activist, translator, book publisher and bibliographer of numerous children's books in Latin and Thai. He has lived in Thailand since 1989 where he founded Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) in 2006 to campaign against pervasive censorship in Thai society. As a Quaker, he became an organiser in the pacifist movement opposing the war in Vietnam and was arrested more than 35 times in demonstrations of civil disobedience. After moving to Canada, in 1976, he became the last American arrested for the Vietnam draft, pardoned by Jimmy Carter's first official act as US President. CJ formed the Society Protecting Intact Kinetic Ecosystems (SPIKE) which supported the tree-spiking of one of the world's last intact temperate rainforests in Clayoquot Sound off the west coast of Vancouver Island. FACT's campaign is active internationally in resisting Internet, book, film and self-censorship. “Freedom of opinions, freedom of thought, freedom of ideas, every one of us deserves a voice.”

Ali Abdulemam

is a computer engineer. He is the creator and editor of and He is among the first Arab bloggers whostarted blogging in Arabic. BahrainOnline was created in1998, when Bahrain was under the security situation and people demands for reform and asking for returning back to the constitution, after the reform has been started when the new king in Bahrain came, BahrainOnline took huge place as the first electronic news source for all Bahraini and it continues growing up. In Feb 2005 Ali with two of his friends have been arrested for 2 weeks and the charge was insulting the king.With the pressure of NGOs , Media and demonstrations , Ali and his friends have been released but the charges still not dropped, BahrainOnline is still running but access to it remains blocked since 2002 but although it is getting more than 80000 hits per day. Ali attends many workshop and conference with the IREX and FrontLine and WAN-Press. Ali is working to make his new project ( the first Electronic Newspaper in Bahrain and the Persian gulf.

Razan Ghazzawi

is a Beirut-based blogger from Syria who is doing her MA’s thesis on Iraqi Jews’ literature. She blogged on the abuse and racism towards the Syrian laborers in Lebanon and on the destruction of Nahr el bared camp and the disposition of its Palestinian inhabitants.
In Syria, she has been also active in opposing internet censorship and activists’ detaining policies. She is the co-founder of Free Tariq campaign. Razan blogs at Razanisms, and her activism highly affected her photography.

Antony Loewenstein

is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Washington Post, Haaretz, The Nation and many others. His best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question, was released by Melbourne University Publishing in 2007. His second book, The Blogging Revolution, on the internet in repressive regimes, will be released in September 2008 by Melbourne University Publishing.

He is a board member of Macquarie University's Centre for Middle East and North African Studies and an Honorary Associate at Macquarie University's Department of Politics and International Relations. He is the co-founder of advocacy group Independent Australian Jewish Voices and works for Amnesty International Australia's 2008 campaign about Chinese internet repression and the Beijing Olympic Games. Antony appears regularly on radio, TV, in public and at universities discussing current affairs and politics.

Sami Ben Gharbia

is a Tunisian activist now living in the Netherlands who serves as advocacy director of Global Voices. Sami has written an e-book about his story of fleeing Tunisia in 1998, crossing Africa and the Middle East, to reach Europe and get asylum: Borj Erroumi XL. His personal blog is at [fikra] فكرة (which means idea in Arabic). Sami is the co-founder of nawaat, a Tunisian collective blog about news and politics, Cybversion a collective blog of documenting censorship in Tunisia. He was also active in the online Yezzi Fock campaign and the creator of Tunisian Prison Map mashup.

Alaa Abd El Fattah

is a software Developer. With an obsession with computers and cats named after French metro stations, Alaa Abd El Fattah was destined to become and uber geek. Somewhere along the way he lost his footing, the strict requirment of non existant social life and science fiction fanboyism became too much for him. To componsate, he has been posturing as a hacker, a FOSS advocate, a blogger, an ICT4D worker, a pro democracy activist, a citizen journalist and whatever else is the internet's buzz word this week.

Robert Guerra

is based in Toronto, Canada and is one of the founding directors of Privaterra – an ongoing project of the SAGE Charitable foundation that works with non governmental organizations to assist them with issues of data privacy, secure communications, information security, Internet Governance and internet Freedom. He is often invited to speak at events to share the challenges being faced by social justice organizations in regards to surveillance, censorship and privacy.
He is the a board member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), acting board secretary. He was actively involved in the the UN World Summit – being an active member of civil society bureau, the internet governance caucus as well as being the NGO advisor to the official Canadian Government delegation.
He advises numerous non-profits, foundations and international organizations, including Taking IT Global, DiploFoundation‘s Internet Governance and Policy Capacity Building Programme, The Open Net Initiative and The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers‘s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and its Security and Stability Advisory Committee – to name a few.

Dr Awab Alvi

is an orthodontist and endodontist. Dr. Awab Alvi has been the author of a very prominent Pakistan political blog titled “Teeth Maestro” for the past four years and is now recognized as a must-watch website for a perspective on the political situation in Pakistan.
Dr. Alvi started his online activism from February 2006 when he co-founded the “Don’t Block the Blog” campaign created in protest of the sudden censorship of the domain by the Government of Pakistan which lasted for over a year. The problems continue to arise frequently and the recent example is the local censorship pf which inadvertently lead to a global outage of the entire site for a few hours simply due to lack of accountability with the monitoring agency, which presumably runs on political whims and bureaucratic pressures, paying little heed to the overall implications.
During the South Asia earthquake in Oct ’05, Dr. Awab Alvi launched a “Donate a Dollar for Pakistan” campaign, this was a first time Pakistan chose to harness the donating power of the internet to help generate over US$10,000 for the earthquake victims in Pakistan.

Oiwan Lam

is a free lance researcher, translator and editor, while her full time work (voluntary work) is with (a Chinese citizen journalism website) , (a multi-lingual border-crossing citizen journalism website) and Hong Kong In-Media (citizen media center). She worked as journalist on political news (the handover of Hong Kong to China) from 1994-97; then joined an Asian NGO (Asian regional exchange for new alternatives) for their alternative education programme; later worked in Taiwan as managing editor for Inter-Asia cultural studies journal and then studied in Beijing for three year; now she is more or less settled in Hong Kong.


is an entrepreneur and human rights activist. He is interested in the role of free web-based and mobile technologies in contributing to grassroots development and human rights advocacy. He co-founded as way to highlight successes, share best practices, and help foster a community of people committed to studying and promoting digital activism globally. He has been involved in the project, a submission-driven photoblog covering the Moroccan elections, the campaign to free Morocco's “facebook prisonner”, and has in the past consulted for international development organizations, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.

Malek khadhraoui

is a Tunisian internet activist living in Paris. Started his activism in 2005 by publishing articles on Tunisians activists websites and on his personal blog. Malek was involved in the online demonstration ( He is also the co-founder of Le Libre Tunisien, an association which acts for promoting civil rights and individual freedom and also a webmaster of the collective blog and the Tunisian anticensorship blog In October 2008 Malek translated into french the Global voices Advocacy guide to “Anonymous Blogging with WordPress & Tor“.

Alex Au

Alex Au has been blogging since 1996 at, well before blogs were invented, and is himself a generation older than the typical blogger. He has been one of the leaders of Singapore’s gay rights movement (People Like Us) since 1993 and more recently has also been active in the nascent human rights movement (Maruah). In the last 2 years, he has contributed 3 chapters to various books published by Singapore’s political think-tanks and is a regular speaker at various forums, universities and colleges.

Walid Al-Saqaf

is a print/online journalist turned cyber activist. He is the founder and administrator of Yemen Portal (, a news and multi-content aggregator focused on content on his country (Yemen). His website got banned from access in Yemen by the authorities presumably for content the government considered harmful to ‘the national interest’. In response, he started an anti-censorship campaign (through that resonated internationally. He currently stands as one of a few Arab cyber activists working on censorship circumventing technologies, the latest being the “Access YemenPortal” Firefox plug-in that was inspired by Iranian Hamed Saber's “Access Flickr!” extension. Walid holds a Master in Global Journalism and is currently pursuing his PhD at Örebro University in Sweden. He can be reached on admin [at] yemenportal [dot] net.

Ahmed Al-Omran

24, is a leading Saudi blogger. His blog, Saudi Jeans, is one of the most popular and long-standing blogs in the Middle East. He has worked to promote blogging in the Kingdom and contributed to innovative citizen journalism projects. He has been widely quoted in international media outlets like New York Times, Washington Post, The Independent and The Times. He also made numerous appearances on BBC, CNN and NPR to comments on issues related to blogging, free speech and censorship.


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