Unfriended? Social Media and Government Censorship in Times of Violence

Event details

Panel discussion

Date & time

Tuesday 22 July 2014


Sparke Helmore Law Theatre 1, ANU College of Law (6a), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Various Speakers


Sarah Logan
+61 2 6125 9607

Do governments ever have the right to cut off or censor internet access? What about in times of civil unrest? Do companies have an obligation to work with governments in such situations, or an obligation to refuse?  In a region regularly beset by communal violence and political unrest, but with some of the fastest growing populations of internet users in the world, the rights and responsibilities of companies such as twitter, facebook and youtube are not clear-cut. €‹ €‹Last month, for example, Thailand's newest government ordered facebook to be temporarily shut down amid a wave of protests, blunting the tools of pro-democracy campaigners. But in Iraq, the government recently shifted a 17-day social media ban imposed to disrupt  brutal media offensives initiated by armed militants sweeping towards Baghdad. In Papua New Guinea, meanwhile, recent unrest has seen several government members argue that access to the internet should be cut off to avoid rumour, gossip and violence.

Join us for a panel discussion on the complex rights and responsibilities of internet companies, featuring Jillian York, Director of International Freedom of Expression for the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Other panel participants include: Dr Nicholas Farrelly and Usman Hamid Abdul of the Department of Political and Social Change; Jacky Sutton, of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies; and Dr Sarah Logan, of the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program.

Registration for this event is essential. To register click here.

About the Speakers    

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist focused on the intersection of technology and policy. She serves as Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she works on issues of free expression, privacy, and digital security. With Ramzi Jaber, Jillian co-founded OnlineCensorship.org, a winner of the 2014 Knight News Challenge.  She is a frequent public speaker on topics including surveillance, censorship, and the role of social media in social change. Her writing has been published by the New York Times, Al Jazeera, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Slate, Foreign Policy, and Die Zeit, among others. Jillian serves on the Board of Directors of Global Voices Online, and on the Advisory Boards of R-Shief and Radio Free Asia's Open Technology Fund.

Dr Nicholas Farrelly is a research fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change at the ANU. His research stretches across the Southeast Asian region and focuses on relationships between government control, spatial organisation and political conflict. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, before returning to take up teaching and research positions at the Australian National University where he had been an undergraduate. Much of Dr Farrelly's research has focussed on the borderlands of northern Burma, northeast India and southwest China. While studying those areas he has continued to research, write and lecture about Thailand. In 2006 he co-founded New Mandala, a blog which has grown to become the preeminent website for academic discussions of Thailand and Burma and the other countries of the region.

Usman Hamid is an MPhil candidate in the Department of Political and Social Change at the ANU. He has a long history as a student activist in Indonesia and has served as an expert adviser to the International Centre for Transitional Justice, Jakarta Office. In 2011 Usman was appointed to the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development, where he reviewed the policy on Indonesia's Human Rights Nation Plan of Action of 2011€“2014. In 2012 Usman co-founded the Public Virtue Institute and the Indonesian Branch of Change.org, the world's largest online petition platform. He has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and previously held a fellowship at Nottingham University.

Jacky Sutton is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, ANU. Jacky comes to ANU with an extensive history in communications development in the Middle East, Central Asia and West Africa. Most recently,she worked as a senior media and communications consultant  for the UNDP and IREX in Iraq from 2008 €“ 2013, advising on legal and regulatory reform in the convergent media sector, and on election-related media capacity building. She has also worked as a producer and broadcaster for BBC World and as a strategic communications consultant for various UN agencies.

Dr Sarah Logan is a research fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at the Australian National University. Her current research focuses on the political and social impact of mobile phones and the internet in Melanesia, especially in Papua New Guinea. Her previous research focused on online counter-terrorism, and she comes to ANU from a long history in political analysis in government. She was a Vice Chancellor's PhD Scholar at the ANU and has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and at the London School of Economics.

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