Last week I was pleased to host a lively roundtable discussion with prominent Internet Freedom advocates from the public and private sectors to introduce them to the BBG and the new Office of Internet Freedom. The conversation centered on our new initiatives to advance global internet access. One notable participant was Alan Gross, who served five years in a Cuban prison after he was convicted of importing and setting up internet access equipment on the island. After the meeting, Alan told me it was the “most stimulating meeting in which I have participated since before I went to Cuba.”
And, I agree – the conversation was substantive and stimulating. Together we discussed several key issues, including mitigating the risk of BBG-funded tools being employed for illicit purposes; improving metrics for measuring the performance and impact of BBG-funded tools; enhancing collaboration with relevant U.S. government agencies, the private sector, and think tanks for information sharing or joint projects; improving education and awareness of internet freedom technologies, their vulnerabilities and safe use, and internet access as a human right; tracking internet freedom activities around the world; and reporting and documenting BBG’s internet freedom accomplishments.
It was important to me that we start off with this kind of conversation, and I’m grateful for the participants’ expertise and dedication to this issue. Their feedback will to inform our initiatives moving forward, and I look forward to their continued collaboration.