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World Press Freedom Day 2018 and Online freedom of expression in the Mekong region

Southeast Asia has the third largest number of internet users in the world – a figure that has grown by more than 30%, or 80 million people, in the past year alone.

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Representatives from freedom of expression NGOs, media and Facebook to join UNESCO, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance and the Embassy of Sweden for debate on critical issue in region’s media scene at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand

Southeast Asia has the third largest number of internet users in the world – a figure that has grown by more than 30%, or 80 million people, in the past year alone.

The promise and potential perils of this rapidly advancing digital age is a hot-button topic in the Mekong Region.

We have, on the one hand, unprecedented access to information and communications platforms opening up to millions with the potential to ensure that development is truly equitable and sustainable.

Then there are the dangers: hate speech and harassment are rife online, personal data leaks are a growing concern and online platforms may stoke the fires of violent extremism.

These are threats that governments around the world can and often do cite when clamping down on freedom of expression online – filtering content, blocking websites or even blanket internet shutdowns, often without a well-defined basis.

On World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2018, 3 May, UNESCO will hold a special event at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand that delves will into the contentious issue of online freedom of expression. The panel will discuss:

What are the challenges of freedom of expression online in the Mekong region?

How do internet companies and governments address these challenges?

How can we balance individuals’ freedom of expression with privacy concerns?

Does online speech need regulation or self-regulation?

What does effective self-regulation look like in the context of the Mekong region?

What: UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2018 debate, “Freedom of expression online in the Mekong region: improving self-regulation.”

When: 3 May, 8:30am (registration)-12.20pm

Who: H.E.M. Staffan Herrström, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand, Myanmar and Lao PDR, will deliver opening remarks along with Ms Misako Ito, Regional Adviser for Communication and Information, UNESCO Bangkok, followed by the launch of UNESCO Global Reports by Ms Duong Bich Hanh, Programme Specialist and Chief of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok. The panel discussion will be moderated by the Southeast-Asia Press Alliance and include:

-Ms Yin Yadanar Thein, Co-founder, Free Expression Myanmar
-Mr Yingcheep Atchanont, iLaw, Thailand
-Ms Sheen Handoo, Public Policy Manager for Asia-Pacific, Facebook Singapore
-Ms Vicheika Kann, Reporter, Voice of America’s Khmer Service, Cambodia

Experts from Reporters Without Borders, Mr. Cedric Alviani, and Chulalongkorn University, Dr Pirongrong Ramasoota, will also share their insights on the way to improve self-regulation in the region.

Where : Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand
Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
As seats are limited, for the full programme and RSVP, please contact… please RSVP by contacting Ms. Rose Poreaux, rc.poreaux@unesco.org

The celebration will be livestreamed on the FCCT’s Facebook page.

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