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Rebecca MacKinnon – Google, China, and Global Internet Freedom

Thursday, February 11, 2010
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

On January 21st, Google publicly challenged the Chinese government’s Internet censorship policies and aggressive cyber-attacks targeting GMail accounts of human rights activists, announcing that the company would “re-evaluate” its entire presence in China. This stunning news was followed one week later by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech in support of global “Internet freedom.” The Chinese government has accused the United States of “information imperialism,” painting Google as an accomplice. But if one looks at Google’s policy disputes around the world it’s clear that the Internet giant is in conflict with all kinds of governments – including many democracies. This informal talk and discussion examines the context, fallout and implications of recent developments – which bring out some challenging questions about the future of authoritarianism, democracy, and sovereignty in the Internet age.


Rebecca MacKinnon is a CITP Visiting Fellow. She is cofounder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network, and is also a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. From 2004-06 she was a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In 2007-08 she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, where she taught online journalism and conducted research on Chinese Internet censorship and the role of technology companies promoting or preventing free expression. In 2009 she continued her research and writing as an Open Society Institute Fellow. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, MacKinnon worked for CNN in Beijing for nine years, serving as CNN’s Beijing Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 1998-2001 and then as CNN’s Tokyo Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 2001-03.