Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) Tom Malinowski visited Silicon Valley recently to meet with corporate, civil society, and academic leaders for discussions on the current and future challenges related to human rights online and what the United States government can continue doing to promote and protect these rights.
Benetech CEO, Jim Fruchterman, hosted a roundtable discussion on February 2nd at the offices of technology venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. In attendance were representatives from Andreessen Horowitz, Benetech, Cloudflare, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Facebook, Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Mozilla.
Secretary Malinowski, former Washington Director at Human Rights Watch, urged the government, civil society, and private sector actors to work together to solve the vexing and enduring problems regarding surveillance, cyber security, privacy, and freedom of expression. He asked the assembled group for help identifying more solutions.
In addition, Secretary Malinowski delivered the Handa Center Annual Public Lecture on Human Rights at Stanford University on February 3rd. He spoke about the profound importance and enduring challenges of advancing democratic ideals and respect for human rights, and why the United States plays an essential role in protecting and promoting these freedoms.
“People want to be free. They want to be treated with dignity and respect. They want to be in control of their lives. And when these things are denied to them, sometimes they endure for awhile, but eventually they will stand up and fight to get what they want,” he said. “We should defend people around the world who are trying peacefully to advance respect for human rights, before conflict between power and people leads to the kinds of crises that we want to avoid.“
He noted that the Obama Administration is committed to defending activists and NGOs under the Stand with Civil Society initiative and speaking out when governments stifle dissent, and standing up for a single, open internet that unites people across the world. He also underscored the U.S. government’s commitment to protect and promote human rights online and highlighted the state department’s new Leading Internet Freedom Technology (LIFT) initiative that addresses the increasingly complex challenges human rights defenders and other netizens face on the internet, and he underscored the U.S. government’s commitment to protect and promote human rights online. LIFT will enable a diverse array of cutting-edge anti-censorship and secure communications technologies to combat the next generation of internet repression.
Benetech is proud to collaborate with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and other industry, academic, and nonprofit partners on internet freedom issues. Benetech’s Human Rights Program is dedicated to harnessing the power of technology to protect at-risk communities suffering human rights abuses.