George Roundtable Considers Information Technology and the Role Corporations Play in Promoting Democratic Change

In North Africa and the Middle East, Facebook has been credited with fueling revolutions. By contrast, In China, citizens are serving jail time for sharing information about democracy over the Internet. Countries around the world are creating walls around the web—causing human rights advocates to worry about the consequences for freedom.

On March 17, Erika George, Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, will host a roundtable discussion considering the role corporations in the information communication technology industry play in promoting democracy or serving the interests of dictators.

The roundtable, “Googling Freedom: The Internet Industry, Human Rights Obligations and Accountability,” will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the College’s Sutherland Moot Courtroom. George and other experts will weigh in on various questions including “What does social responsibility mean for information communications technology corporations operating in the context of authoritarian regimes?” And “How should the law shape the role of the new media in a new era of global information exchange?”

“The Internet industry is at the center of these new challenges and opportunities and must determine how their profits and policies align with human rights obligations,” George said. “Therefore, we are excited to bring together experts from the academy, the human rights advocacy community and industry to discuss these important and timely issues.”

Participants include Keynote speaker Professor Anupam Chander of the University of California, Davis, who writes in the areas of Cyberlaw, Corporate Law, and Public International Law; Rebecca MacKinnon, formerly of CNN Beijing and currently with the Global Online Freedom Initiative and the Committee to Protect Journalists; Sonja Gitten Ottley, Manager, Business & Humans Rights Program, Yahoo!; and Arvind Ganesan, Director of Human Rights Watch’s business and human rights program. Chander will appear in person; all other guests will participate via video teleconference.

Attendance is free and open to the public.  No pre-registration is required. The roundtable will be broadcast on the College of Law’s dashboard and streamed live on Facebook.  A light lunch will be provided for attendees.