Internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox last night applauded the power of the internet to aid the expression of individuals. Lastminute.com founder Lane Fox was speaking at 'Some People Think the Internet is a Bad Thing: The Struggle for Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace' - an Amnesty International event examining the nature and future of internet freedom.
At the event in London, Amnesty International unveiled a new version of its irrepressible.info website. The site features a news aggregator that will turn the site into an information hub for anyone interested in the future of internet freedom.
The Amnesty International event also featured Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Experts on web-filtering spoke to the audience, and testimony was heard from victims of global internet repression.
The event marks the first anniversary of irrepressible.info, an Amnesty International campaign to combat the repression of internet users around the world. The campaign seeks to harness the power of the web, mobilising internet users to take action against governments who are censoring and blocking sites or imprisoning web users.
The event was globally webcast from Amnesty's London HQ, and sponsored by The Observer newspaper. You can watch the Amnesty International web-freedom event on Amnesty International's UK website.
Looking back over the 10 years since she launched Lastminute.com, Martha Lane Fox said:
"One thing that has changed is the power of the individual. The power lies much more with the user and it's an exciting if subtle shift.
"On a social level, there are hundreds of social-networking sites but all of them give power back to the user. There is real potential for individuals to tell you the truth about what corporations are telling us.
"And politically, we are able to mass together like-minded groups of interest, just as this campaign has done, to effectively have a voice. The landscape looks different to 1997 but the fundamentals are still there – the tool that is the internet is incredible and powerful."
Last night's Amnesty event also heard from victims of internet repression in Tunisia and China, and from Morten Sklar a lawyer who is taking Yahoo to court in the USA for complicity in human rights violations against Chinese web users.
Amnesty claims that companies such as Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been complict in suppressing freedom of speech in China by censoring web content, releasing personal data leading to arrest and providing filtering hardware.