Anyone who writes on a specific topic will have a set of resources he or she refers to in order to keep on top of what’s happening. Those of us who keep an eye out on how free speech issues affect the online world tend to use resources that are, of course, online. Practicing the transparency we preach, I thought it might be useful to share my top sources.
The criteria I used to come up with this list of 10 online free speech sources are that they need to be accessible to anyone, provide original news or original analysis of that news and be frequently updated. In this list I have focused on institutional resources.
Reporters Without Borders – Internet RSF (as its known in French) was the first press freedom group to pay attention to the non-journalist, non-activist bloggers who were increasingly getting into legal trouble for speaking online. They’re probably currently the best source on online threats internationally, with a lot of in-country intel.
Global Voices – Advocacy GVO leverages an international group of native respondents to cover issues of importance to the non-English speaking blogosphere (are we still using that term?). The leverage that group in turn to keep track of bloggers, and other users of social media, who have fallen afoul of the law.
Electronic Frontier Foundation This U.S. group is focused on the legal element of electronic speech. They are not just reporters and analysts. Their active cadre of lawyers are frequently actors in lawsuits to keep in the Internet open.
OpenNetInitiative Famous for their studies of filtering mechanisms and technology use in countries around the world, the ONI blog keeps intelligent track of news and trends in free speech.
MLRC: Legal Actions Against Bloggers Focusing on the U.S. legal landscape, the Media Law Resource Center’s blog details “legal cases . . . in which bloggers have been sued for libel, privacy and related claims, or been subject to criminal investigations or prosecutions.”
Net Effect Foreign Policy magazine’s online speech blog, Net Effect is written by Evgeny Morozov, as wrong and dumb as he is right and smart (and he’s right and smart a lot). Morozov has a distinctive point of view on events and trends online, one powered by more of a geopolitical context than most resources. Whether your agree with him (you won’t) or disagree (you won’t), there’s usually something to think about, and sometimes news. He doesn’t post as often as he should.
Wired – Online Rights Wired.com’s listing of stories on electronic communications freedoms and threats to them come from across the magazine’s contents. Some stories have exceptional analysis by thinkers in the middle of the stories.
Committee to Protect Journalists – Alerts The Committee to Protect Journalists was very late to the table in covering online issues, but their long experience dealing with threatened journalists and the contacts they have partially make up for it. A particularly good resource for overall free speech context in a region.
Freedom House – Newsroom Also good for overall context, Freedom House also produces intelligent reports on issues including online free speech trends.
These are the institutional resources I find myself using the most. In the future I may list the personal blogs I use the most, as well as the Twitter accounts from which I get the most useful information. In the meantime, how do you stay informed on free speech issues that affect you online?