The (Un-)Freedom of Information under Capitalism

The (Un-)Freedom of Information under Capitalism

On February 28 and March 1, 2014, around 200 scholars, activists, journalists, lawyers, librarians, media practitioners, experts of open culture and public space, policy makers and critical citizens participated in the conference “Freedom of Information under Pressure: Control – Crisis – Culture” at Vienna University of Technology in order to discuss threats that freedom, the media and the Internet are facing in contemporary capitalism.

The topics that were discussed included the prosecution of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, secret services’ (NSA, GCHQ etc) communications- and Internet- surveillance as part of the Prism surveillance system, the limitation of the freedom of the press (including repression and violence against journalists) in countries such as Greece and the United Kingdom, the dangers of the commercialisation and commodification of the Internet, social media and communications; the contradictions of media power, threats to public service media such as the closure of the Greek public service broadcaster ERT, journalism and the media’s role in commercialisation and tabloidisation, implications of online whistle-blowing, public and open access to knowledge and libraries, transparency and intransparency of corporate and state power, models of resistance in Internet and media activism.

The conference alerted the public to ways corporate and state power limit the freedom of information in capitalism and that alternatives to the dominant ways the media and the Internet are organised and controlled are urgently needed. The participants are preparing a freedom of information-petition and declaration.

Videos of the plenary talks and panel discussions have been published online.

* Gill Phillips (Director of Editorial Legal Service, The Guardian, United Kingdom): Edward Snowden – More Questions than Answers?, Moderator: Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster, UK)

* Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster, UK): Social Media, the Internet, (Un-)Freedom and the Public Sphere in Times of Crisis, Moderator: Peter Fleissner (President, transform!at, Austria)

* Panel Discussion: Surveillance and Whistle-Blowing
Participants: Miyase Christensen (Professor, Stockholm University, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, London School of Economics, UK), Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster, UK), Rene Pfeiffer (DeepSec, Austria), Minas Samatas (Professor, University of Crete, Greece), Sebastian Sevigniani (Univesity of Jena, Germany), Pepi Zawodsky (Metalab and CryptoParty, Austria), Moderator: Dimitris Tsapogas (University of Vienna, Austria)

* Panel discussion: “Reform: Policy and advocacy”
Participants: Jaqueline Harrison (Professor, Centre for Freedom of the Media, UK), Spideralex (Hacktivist, Catalonia), Kostas Efimeros (Publisher, The Press Project, Greece), Arne Hintz (Lecturer, University of Cardiff, UK), Andreas Krisch (President, European Digital Rights, Belgium), George Katrougalos (Professor, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece), Moderator: Marianne Schulze (Liga für Menschrechte, Austria)

* Augustine Zenakos (Investigative Journalist, UNFOLLOW magazine, Greece) and Mariniki Alevizopoulou (Investigative Journalist, UNFOLLOW magazine, Greece) Moderator: Dimitris Tsapogas (University of Vienna)

* Wolfgang Hofkirchner (Professor, Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
“Why freedom of information is not enough”

* Joachim Losehand (Scholar, VIBE!at, Austria): “Right of access to information and public knowledge”
Moderator: Nikolaus Hamann (Vienna Public Libraries, KRIBIBI, Austria)

* Panel discussion: “Right of access to information and public knowledge”
Nikolaus Hamann (Vienna Public Libraries, KRIBIBI, Austria), Markus »fin« Hametner (Transparenzgesetz, Austria), Antonis Broumas (Attorney at law, Digital Liberation Network, Greece), Lisa Schilhan (VÖB, University of Graz, Austria), Paloma Fernández de la Hoz (Catholic Social Academy, Austria), Terezija Stoisits (Vice President Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte, Austria)

* George Katrougalos (Professor, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece):
What has a failed state like Greece to do with the future of Europe?
Moderator: Dimitris Tsapogas (University of Vienna, Austria)

* Erich Möchel (Journalist, ORF, Austria): “Information defense for journalists”
Moderator: Peter Fleissner (President, transform!at, Austria)

* Panel discussion: Media and journalism under pressure
William Horsley (Media Freedom Representative, Association of European Journalists),
Barbara Trionfi (Press Freedom Manager, International Press Institute), Susanne Scholl (Journalist, Austria), Kostas Arvanitis (Journalist, Greece), Stanka Tosheva (Editor in Chief of Capital, Bulgaria), Harald Schumann (Investigative journalist, Tagesspiegel, Germany),
Moderator: Gerfried Sperl (Journalist, PHOENIX, Austria)

Related posting: Christian Fuchs: (Un-)Freedom in the Age of Social Media

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