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Online activism in southeast asia

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"Online activism in southeast asia" - Presentation by Gayathry Venkiteswaran at FoME 2012 Symposium in Berlin. http://forum-medien-entwicklung.de

(c) Gayathry Venkiteswaran, 2012
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Online activism in southeast asia

  1. 1. From Online Activism to Offline Action!Digital media and democratic space! 2012 Symposium! Gayathry Venkiteswaran Executive Director Southeast Asian Press Alliance Twitter: @seapabkk @gayathry
  2. 2. Key Points1)  There may not be causal links, but in itself the use of the online tools have brought to the national agenda, key governance issues2)  State push back is mainly non- technological3)  Change is supported by a more enabling political, judicial, civil society, media environments
  3. 3. Presentationl  Life just before @Facebook and #Twitter – why people will always find ways to speakl  Blogspot.com/Im_arrested – why the government will always find ways to controll  Who benefits, who drives?
  4. 4. Life just before @Facebook and #Twitter
  5. 5. #HelloGarci Title: Hello Garci, Philippines 2005 Recording of a conversation between President Arroyo and Election Commissioner Vrigilio Garcilano during the 2004 national election in her favour. It became a famous ringtone that was shared around – at its height, there were 1million Filipinos using that ringtone. It became part of electoral awareness tool. The expose did not in itself lead to her impeachment but it remains on the political agenda.Pix credit: http://walangsulat.blogspot.com/2009/03/remember-hello-garci-scandal.html
  6. 6. #Squatgate Title: Squatgate, Malaysia 2005 Revelation of female detainees forced to do ear squats in the nude. One such incident was recorded on mobile phone and distributed via MMS. Led to a Cabinet Minister being sent to China to apologise, because it was made to believe that the detainee was a Chinese national. It turned out later to be a Malaysian national. Police SOPs - which has also since then been an agenda of civil society.Pix credit: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
  7. 7. #SaffronRevolution Title: Saffron Revolution, Burma 2007 Thousands of monks involved in nationwide protests, inviting eventual military crackdown. Images of the crackdown and protests were captured on personal cameras and videos and sent out by individuals before the government shut down access to the internet. The award winning documentary Burma VJ documents this.Pix credit: Mizzima News
  8. 8. Blogspot.com/Im_arrested
  9. 9. Facebook/1M people against netcontroll  Most governments that have shown readiness to charge bloggers/netizens/media have mainly used typical criminal laws of national security, criminal defamation, so-called illegal transactionsl  Its a classic case of invasion more than privacy; control rather than protection
  10. 10. Blogspot.com/Im_arrestedExamples:l  Vietnam - arrest of bloggers under Article 77 (overthrowing the peoples administration) or Article 88 (propoganda against the state) of the Criminal Codel  Burma - the targets were those working or contributing towards the media in exile, Democratic Voice of Burma - under the Unlawful Associations Act, Immigration Act or Electronic Transactions Act.l  Malaysia - the use of the Sedition Act and Criminal Code (criminal defamation), and more and more the Communications and Multimedia Actl  Thailand – Article 112 of the Penal Code and Computer Crimes Act
  11. 11. Who benefits, who drives
  12. 12. Whos repsonsible for changes, ifany?l  The drivers behind opening, more progressive laws, or vice versa, are a mixed bag of top- down and bottom-up processes.l  Reflecting on the intrduction of FOI laws as an example to compare Thailand (one man) and Indonesia (civil society)l  Vengeful individuals speak louder - Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III puts in provision for online libe in the last minute in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of Philippines
  13. 13. So, is it a Yes or No?l  Uncovering the impact of or even the links between online activism-offline will still require us to ask old questions Why the temporary injuction Why Burmas military on the implementation of regime takes the path down the Cybercrime Prevention openness in media, but not Act in Philippines was Vietnam possible, but not Section 114a of the Evidence Act in Malaysia Why with a free media environment, the online space is restricted and highly contested in Thailand
  14. 14. Locating strategic responsesl  Places critical issues in the public domain, with the potential for influencing public opinion on governance and administrationl  Draws external/international attention to an internal conflict to offer solidarity, provide an impetus for changel  Shows that triggers are often very close to the individual citizens – issues concerning their daily lives like prices; dignity; rightsl  There is growing recognition and response that defending online spaces is a cause itselfl  Some positive changes we see still rely on the independence of the media and the judiciary as well as presence of strong civil society
  15. 15. From Online Activism to Offline Action!Digital media and democratic space! 2012 Symposium! Gayathry Venkiteswaran Executive Director Southeast Asian Press Alliance Twitter: @seapabkk @gayathry