Thursday, September 20, 2012 | 11:59 AM
Until now, the German Foreign Ministry had sponsored one main conference on the Internet - focusing on cybersecurity. Last week, it held a new conference focusing on the counterpart - cyberfreedom.
Google was happy to sponsor, along with many others including Microsoft and the eco ( Association of German Internet Industry). In a video address, our Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf warned the assembled 120 international experts from the political, academic and business sectors as well as from civil society that the open Internet is threatened as never before. More than 40 countries now censor or filter the net, up from only four a decade ago. "A new international battle is brewing,” Vint said, “a battle that will determine the future of the Internet."
The conference coincided with a particularly tense time for Internet free expression, just as an anti-Islam video sparked protests in Egypt and Libya. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the video, while insisting that it was no excuse for violence. The fundamental principles of German Cyber Foreign Policy were: freedom, responsibility and transparency,” he said.
Another recent event in Berlin highlighted Google’s commitment to free speech - the second Speakers Corner. Last year, we partnered with Speakers Corner Trust to export a bit of Hyde Park to Berlin. Together with our partners, we celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate.
This year, we moved the event forward to ensure better weather and to the main site of the protests against the East German communist regime - Alexanderplatz. A wide range of speakers from politics, digital activism, journalism and civil society groups spoke about everything from the future of online piracy to the challenges of a united Germany. It was a joyous occasion - just what we mean by free expression.