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  • There's a big question at the center of life

  • in our democracies today:

  • How do we fight terror without destroying democracies,

  • without trampling human rights?

  • I've spent much of my career working with journalists,

  • with bloggers,

  • with activists,

  • with human rights researchers all around the world,

  • and I've come to the conclusion

  • that if our democratic societies do not double down

  • on protecting and defending human rights,

  • freedom of the press

  • and a free and open internet,

  • radical extremist ideologies are much more likely to persist.

  • (Applause)

  • OK, all done. Thank you very much.

  • No, just joking.

  • (Laughter)

  • I actually want to drill down on this a little bit.

  • So, one of the countries that has been on the frontlines of this issue

  • is Tunisia,

  • which was the only country to come out of the Arab Spring

  • with a successful democratic revolution.

  • Five years later,

  • they're struggling with serious terror attacks

  • and rampant ISIS recruitment.

  • And many Tunisians are calling on their government

  • to do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

  • Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari

  • has summed up the situation with this character who says,

  • "I don't give a damn about human rights.

  • I don't give a damn about the revolution.

  • I don't give a damn about democracy and liberty.

  • I just want to be safe."

  • "Satisfied?" asked his jailer.

  • "You're safe now."

  • If the Tunisian people can figure out

  • how to deal with their terrorism problem

  • without ending up in this place,

  • they will be a model not only for their region,

  • but for all of us.

  • The reality is that civil society, journalists and activists

  • are coming under attack from extremist groups on the one hand,

  • and, in many countries,

  • also from their own governments.

  • We're seeing bloggers and journalists being jailed,

  • charged and intimidated

  • by their own governments,

  • many of which are allies with the West in the war on terror.

  • Just three examples.

  • A friend and former colleague of mine,

  • Hisham Almiraat,

  • has been charged with threatening state security,

  • along with six other activists in Morocco.

  • The Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been jailed and flogged

  • for insulting Islam and criticizing the Saudi regime on his blog.

  • More recently, the Turkish representative for Reporters Without Borders,

  • Erol Önderoglu,

  • has been detained and charged with spreading terrorist propaganda,

  • because he and some other activists have been supporting Kurdish media.

  • Anti-terror measures quickly turn into state repression

  • without strong protection for minority communities

  • and for peaceful debate;

  • this needs to be supported by a robust, independent local media.

  • But while that's not really happening,

  • Washington is teaming up with Silicon Valley and with Hollywood

  • to pour millions -- hundreds of millions of dollars --

  • into what's called "counter-messaging,"

  • a fancy word for propaganda.

  • To counter the terrorist propaganda spreading all over the internet,

  • in Europe, Internet Referral Units are being set up,

  • so that people can report on extremist content that they find

  • and get it censored.

  • The problem is,

  • that all of this propaganda, monitoring and censorship

  • completely fails to make up for the fact

  • that the people who are the most credible voices,

  • who can present credible ideas and alternative solutions

  • to real economic, social and political problems in their community

  • that are causing people to turn to extremism in the first place,

  • are being silenced by their own governments.

  • This is all adding up to a decrease in freedom across the world.

  • Freedom House,

  • the human rights organization,

  • reports that 2015 marks the 10th straight year in a row

  • of decline in freedom worldwide.

  • And this is not just because of the actions

  • of authoritarian governments.

  • It's also because democratic governments

  • are increasingly cracking down on dissenters,

  • whistle-blowers

  • and investigative journalists.

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has warned

  • that "preventing extremism and promoting human rights go hand-in-hand."

  • It's not to say that governments shouldn't keep us safe --

  • of course they should --

  • but we need public oversight, transparency

  • and accountability to the rule of law.

  • Meanwhile,

  • extremists are literally killing off civil society in some countries.

  • Since 2013 in Bangladesh,

  • over a dozen secular bloggers and community activists

  • have been literally slaughtered by extremists

  • while the government has done very little.

  • From the city of Raqqa in Syria,

  • people like Ruqia Hassan and Naji Jerf have been assassinated

  • for their reporting out of ISIS-controlled territory.

  • The citizen media group called Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently

  • relies on strong encryption to send out their reports

  • and shield themselves from interception and surveillance.

  • Yet authorities in countries like the United States,

  • the United Kingdom and many other democracies

  • are seeking to use the law

  • to either weaken or outright ban strong encryption,

  • because the bad guys are using it, too.

  • We have got to fight for the right of citizens to use strong encryption.

  • Otherwise, dissent and investigative journalism

  • are going to become even more difficult

  • in even more places.

  • And the bad guys -- the criminals and terrorists --

  • are still going to find ways to communicate.

  • Kudos to the companies that are standing up

  • for their users' right to use encryption.

  • But when it comes to censorship,

  • the picture is much more troubling.

  • Yes, there's a real problem

  • of extremist content spreading all over the internet.

  • And Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are among the many companies

  • who report having taken down hundreds of thousands of pieces of content

  • and deactivating accounts

  • that are connected to the extremist's speech.

  • The problem is their enforcement mechanisms are a complete black box,

  • and there is collateral damage.

  • Take, for example, Iyad el-Baghdadi,

  • an activist who makes fun of ISIS on Twitter.

  • He had his account deactivated,

  • because he shares a surname with a prominent ISIS leader.

  • Last December,

  • a number of women named Isis,

  • which also happens to be the name of an Egyptian goddess,

  • had their accounts deactivated.

  • And this woman,

  • who lives in the United States and is a computer programmer,

  • reported on Twitter about her deactivation on Facebook,

  • managed to get enough media attention to have her account reinstated.

  • But that's the thing -- she had to get media attention.

  • And journalists aren't immune.

  • David Thomson,

  • an expert on terrorism and reporter for Radio France International,

  • had reports deleted from his Facebook account

  • and had his account deactivated for several days,

  • because they contained pictures of ISIS flags,

  • even though he was just reporting on ISIS,

  • not promoting it.

  • And then we have stories from people like this Egyptian man,

  • Ahmed Abdellahy,

  • who reported recently in an event in Washington DC

  • that some of his arguments with extremists --

  • he now spends his time on social media arguing with ISIS followers,

  • trying to get them to turn away --

  • some of his arguments with these extremists get deleted,

  • which he believes has the effect of shielding them

  • from alternative points of view.

  • It's unclear whether Facebook even knows the extent

  • of the collateral damage,

  • or the other companies as well.

  • But we do know that journalism, activism and public debate

  • are being silenced in the effort to stamp out extremist speech.

  • So with these companies having so much power over the public discourse,

  • they need to be held accountable.

  • They need to carry out impact assessment

  • to identify and fix the problems that we're clearly seeing.

  • They need to be more transparent about their enforcement mechanisms,

  • and they need to have clear appeal and grievance mechanisms,

  • so people can get their content reinstated.

  • Now, I've been talking for the last 10 minutes

  • about how governments and companies are making it more difficult