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What is the Future of Free Speech on the Internet? Jillian C York

Festival of Ideas
Jillian York

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Jillian C York examines how our rights have become increasingly undermined by those controlling how we access and share information online.

The internet once promised to be a place of extraordinary freedom beyond the control of money or politics, but today corporations and platforms exercise more control than any state. What is the impact of surveillance capitalism on our right to free speech?

From the online calls to arms in the thick of the Arab Spring to the contemporary front-line of misinformation, York charts the war over our digital rights. She looks at how the big corporations have become unaccountable censors, and the devastating impact it has had on those who have been censored.

Who decides the difference between political debate and hate speech? What impact does this have on our identity, our ability to create communities and to protest? Who regulates the censors? And what can be done to challenge these threats to our democracy?

In conversation with writer Maria Farrell.

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Book cover of Silicon Values by Jillian C York

Jillian C York’s Silicon Values is published by Verso. Buy a copy from Waterstones, our bookselling partners.

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Jillian York

Jillian C York is a writer and activist whose work examines the impact of technology on our societal and cultural values. Based in Berlin, she is the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Human Rights at the European University Viadrina, and a visiting professor at the College of Europe Natolin.

Image credit: Nadine Barišić / VampKitty
Maria Farrell

Maria Farrell is a writer and speaker, and one of The Guardian’s 2021 “formidable female tech critics”. Her viral 2020 essay, The Prodigal Tech Bro, coined a new term to explain why we still lavish attention and resources on the men who created our technology dystopia. Farrell worked in tech policy for twenty years, including The World Bank, ICANN, the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris, and The Law Society of England and Wales. She has written for The Guardian, the New European, Slate, Medium, the Irish Times and Irish Independent, and is working on a book about how we can use stories to imagine and build a tech future that includes and serves us all.

Democracy and Freedom of Expression

This event is part of our 2021 series on democracy and freedom of expression. We’re committed to looking at solutions to the great challenges that face us – what individuals, leaders, mayors, councils, governments, cities, communities, nations and others can do to support, strengthen and extend democracy and freedom of expression.

The series includes: programmes on the future of democracy, May elections, the monarchy, constitutions, English devolution, House of Lords reform, votes at 16; work exploring freedom of expression through the year; and a focus on democracy and cities in Festival of the Future City (20-21 October).

Our project partners include English PENProspect Magazine, the Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath and the Observer. More events will be launched soon. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #FOIDemocracy and #CommonCurrency

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