Finland is home to the freest news media in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders. It’s fitting, then, that the annual UNESCO World Press Freedom Day conference will be held in Helsinki this year, May 2-4.
Freedom of information is a topic that’s close to our heart. We were fighting for digital freedom before it was cool – yes, before Edward Snowden.
A free press is foundational to a free and open society. A free press keeps leaders and authorities accountable, informs the citizenry about what’s happening in their society, and gives a voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise have one. Journalists shed light on issues the powers that be would much rather be left in the dark. They ask the tough questions. They tell stories that need to be told.
In a nutshell, they provide all of us with the info we need to make the best decisions about our lives, our communities, our societies and our governments, as the American Press Institute puts it.
That’s a pretty important purpose. But it can also be a dangerous one.
Journalists working on controversial stories are often subject to intimidation and harassment, and sometimes imprisonment. Sometimes doing their job means risking their lives. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 1189 journalists have been killed worldwide in work-related situations since 1992, when they began counting. 786 of those were murdered.
Freedom of the press and digital technology are inextricably intertwined. Journalists’ tools and means of communication are digital – so to protect themselves, their stories and their sources, they also need digital tools that enable them to work in privacy. Encrypted email and messaging apps. Secure, private file storage. A password manager to protect their accounts. A VPN to hide their Internet traffic and to access the content they need while they’re on assignment abroad.
It’s because press freedom and technology are so intertwined that it’s our honor to participate in this year’s World Press Freedom Day conference. Here’s how we’ll be participating in the program:
Check out our Twitter feed on May 3 for livestream of Mikko’s and Erka’s stage time.
Banner photo: Getty Images
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