Zittrain in the Netherlands


Prominent Internet scholar Jonathan Zittrain discussed ongoing threats to press freedom during his early May visit to Maastricht, the Netherlands.

His speech was part of the United Nations World Press Freedom Day. His speech was recorded in four parts.

Additionally, a representative from LiveLeak, a British site which publishes news-related videos, attended. He discussed the processes LiveLeak uses to decide how to post videos.

LiveLeak was in the news when “half of Holland” logged into its site to watch a video Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders posted there. There were security issues soon after the video was posted in late March, though, and the video was removed for several days.

Soon after LiveLeak staff re-posted the video, Wilders took it down for copyright violations.

Fitna depicts Islam in unfavourable lights, highlighting radicalism. The film drew criticism from around the world, the Muslim world in particular.

Zittrain, who in 1996 co-founded Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. He addressed the following questions:

  • How easy would it be to completely block the news website of one of our papers and who could potentially do so?
  • Who decides which discussion or opinion can be found on the web? Media companies like Google or individual countries?
  • Are the limits of press freedom still defined nationally?
  • Do Microsoft and Google already control the new order and are countries like China fighting a rearguard battle?
  • How can media companies contribute to freedom of the press in the digital domain and which dilemmas will they face?

The event, held at the European Journalism Centre offices at the Centre Céramique, was sponsored by Stichting Democratie en Media; Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap; Koninklijke Wegener BV; Gemeente Maastricht; Dagblad de Limburger; Limburgs Dagblad; ANP Press Support and the EJC.