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Yahoo! hosts first Business and Human Rights Summit

From RPRN:

Today, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is hosting a landmark Business & Human Rights Summit at its Sunnyvale campus, bringing together individuals from around the world to raise awareness about freedom of expression and its enduring challenges. The summit includes experts from the business, academic, journalist, human rights and advocacy communities – each with a unique perspective but united in a common desire to advance this fundamental right.

Michael Samway, Yahoo!’s vice president and deputy general counsel said, “Yahoo! was founded on the belief that access to information can enrich people’s lives, and we hope this summit and our other initiatives will both stimulate greater awareness about free expression issues and bring others to this important cause.”

The summit’s keynote speaker is Ory Okolloh, Kenyan blogger and the executive director of Ushahidi. Ushahidi is a crowdsourcing platform for crisis situations developed in Kenya, which now serves as a platform that allows anyone around the world to gather – and map – news about emergent situations by mobile phone, email and the web. Ushahidi has been used in Kenya, the Congo, Gaza and is currently being deployed during the 2009 Indian Lok Sabha election.

In addition, journalists and social entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia and the Middle East will address their efforts to harness the Internet’s capabilities for a range of endeavors involving the sharing of information. In a panel entitled “Social Media and Citizen Journalists,” panelists will discuss how they have used the Internet and social media in their regions to support free expression and drive social change. The panelists include Indian blogger Gaurav Mishra and Ethiopian journalist and former prisoner of conscience Abebe Gellaw, both of whom are currently fellows at Georgetown and Stanford universities (respectively) as part of a Yahoo! initiative to facilitate scholarship on freedom of expression in the information age.

They will be joined by Ushahidi’s Okolloh, Bahraini journalist Amira Al Husseini, and panel moderator Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN Beijing and Tokyo bureau chief.

“As more people around the world turn to the Internet to advocate for human rights, the challenges they face from governments and other powerful entities are also growing more complex and sophisticated. The stories told by our panelists about online activism in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are inspiring. They also show how decisions made by Internet and telecommunications companies can have a big impact on what is and isn’t possible,” noted MacKinnon.

This should be an excellent event! This is an area where Yahoo! has really taken the lead, as several previous posts have noted. I am especially thrilled that my former student Michael Samway has been a true leader in this effort. More information on the summit will follow.

(HT: Robert Michael Murray)

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.