Thursday, November 24, 2011
The Sakharov Prize is the European parliaments most prestigious award celebrating human rights. It is named after Andrei Sakharov, a human rights activist in the former Soviet Union, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Past laureates of the EU award include such heroes as Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi and such heroic institutions such as Reporters Without Borders. This year’s winners are Arab Spring activists.
Google was honored to participate in yesterday’s Parliament’s “Sakharov Prize Network” event. Many of the former laureates gathered to dedicate the Sakharov Lounge in the European Parliament and to take part in panel discussions regarding human rights and technology.
Participants noted how the Internet had overturned the previous top-down model of global communications, allowed the previously voiceless to reach the entire world. “The Internet is our black cat that climbs up walls and into rooms without asking,” said Azerbaijani blogger Ali Novruzov. See more about his story in this documentary.
We know that our role in promoting free flow of information often puts us in the spotlight. Naturally, we received some tough questions about our policies. How do we deal with government requests to hand over information on users? Why don't we make sure everybody has access to the Internet? These provoked a constructive discussion - and an opportunity to explain our Transparency Report, which details what requests for information we receive from governments. Everyone should have access to the Net - and we’ve taken actions like developing Speak-to-Tweet to keep communication flowing.
It is heartwarming to be associated with a courageous figure such as Andrei Sakharov. We will work every day, as best as possible, to uphold his memory.