Freedom Online Conference Launches Digital Defenders Partnership

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 13, 2012

On September 6-7, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner, led the U.S. delegation to Nairobi, Kenya for the Freedom Online conference.

This event was the follow-up to the December, 2011 inaugural Freedom Online conference in The Hague, where Secretary Clinton gave the keynote address and a coalition of nations from all regions joined together with representatives of the private sector and civil society organizations to commit to advance Internet freedom.

Hosted by the Kenyan government, this conference launched the Digital Defenders Partnership, an unprecedented collaboration among governments to provide emergency support for Internet users under threat for peacefully exercising their universal rights through new technologies. The U.S. is proud to be one of several coalition member countries who have dedicated a total of more than 2.5 m Euros to this initiative. The U.S. contribution builds on the State Department and USAID’s experience managing over $100 million in Internet freedom programming since 2008.

The Kenyan government highlighted their own efforts to foster an open Internet as a means of furthering innovation and development. Representatives from 32 countries from 5 continents attended, including 17 African countries, as well as businesses and civil society from across Africa and around the world.

Assistant Secretary Posner spoke on the link between human rights and development in Internet freedom. The conference also featured skills-building workshops, including how Internet Communications and Technology companies can address human rights challenges they face and how civil society can engage in domestic and international Internet policy processes.

The United States welcomes Tunisia’s announcement that it will become the 18th member state in this Internet freedom coalition and seeks to host the 2013 convening, partnering with Kenya and the other members of the coalition in the year ahead to strengthen this agenda across Africa and the Middle East.

For more on the U.S. government’s engagement on Internet freedom, visit

For more about the Digital Defenders Partnership

PRN: 2012/1434