Co-author of Online Free Speech Petition in China Wins Nobel

BY CCIA Staff
October 19, 2010

On Oct. 8, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu is a longtime democracy advocate and one of the authors of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democratization and political reform in China. The Chinese government’s reaction to the news was to promptly delete it from search engines and microblogging sites.

CCIA has long opposed Internet censorship efforts by foreign governments as sabotaging what should be the greatest tool for freedom in the world. The Internet enables the widespread dissemination within a society of information and ideas that are the building blocks of democracy.

China’s Great Firewall seeks to keep out inconvenient information and prevent such building blocks from taking shape. If democracy is to be brought about through the efforts of men like Mr. Liu who “dream of things that never were and ask why not?” the free flow of information lets them know what already is in other countries and helps them envision what could someday be in China.

Internet censorship is not only about keeping foreign content out. The Internet is also a great enabler of information sharing and discussion within China. Such open and robust debates are not something alien to Chinese culture. There is a long history of it going all the way back to the Hundred Schools of Thought in ancient times.

More recent efforts to embrace that history include Charter 08, an online petition that was issued in December 2008, calling for greater human rights and democratic freedom in China. Modeled after Charter 77, the anti-Soviet document published in Czechoslovakia in 1977, Charter 08 calls for such positions as guaranteeing human rights, democratic elections, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. Mr. Liu was a principal author of this blueprint for a free and democratic China.

Charter 08 was widely disseminated online and signed by 10,000 Chinese citizens online. When a group of reformist Communist Party elders (including a former secretary to Mao Zedong) published a letter last week calling for an easing of restrictions on freedom of speech, they did so on the microblogging service of China’s largest news portal. The Internet is already functioning as a modern-day printing press –even in China.

As the free world salutes China’s most prominent freedom activist, it is appropriate for those of us in the Internet industry to reflect once again on the potential power of a free Internet to aid him in his struggle, and how we can counter efforts to undermine that power.

Related Articles

White House Expected To Issue Executive Order Targeting Online Speech

May 28, 2020

Washington – According to various news reports, President Trump is expected to issue an executive order seeking to roll back the liability protections that have allowed users to post content online.  Reports of an executive order come days after Twitter applied a fact-check notice adjacent to accusations from President Trump via Twitter about alleged voter…

CCIA Asks Senate Judiciary To Extend And Strengthen USA FREEDOM Act Protections

Nov 5, 2019

Washington — The Senate Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing Wednesday on reauthorizing the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015. The Computer & Communications Industry Association is calling on senators to maintain due process and civil liberties protections for US citizens under current surveillance authority and to use this periodic reauthorization to re-evaluate whether the law…

EU Court Ruling On Worldwide Take Down of Defamatory Content Raises Freedom of Speech Concerns

Oct 3, 2019

Brussels, BELGIUM — The EU Court of Justice today ruled that host providers can be asked to take down defamatory content, that is “identical” or “equivalent” to content previously ruled illegal under national rules. The Decision adds that hosting providers should remove information covered by the injunction or block access to that information worldwide, as…