Freedom of Expression Challenges to Internet Governance

SEAPA’s 2012 annual report on press freedom in Southeast Asia noted the growing importance online media in the region. It is highly contested and in some countries, offers the final bastion of unfettered speech and expression. The mainstream media landscape has also seen dramatic shifts to embrace, rightly or incorrectly, the online platform and technologies.

Meanwhile, State handing of the online infrastructure and space are a mix of welcome and worry, the former because of the promise of investment from the knowledge economy; and the latter, for its capability in supporting alternative views and voices.

Online expression has been curtailed and come under attack through the many legal instruments and extra-judicial methods, for example, harassment and intimidation. Issues deemed sensitive are also singled out for censorship or blocking, for example, those related to politics, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.
The explosive growth of online media draws attention from stakeholders around the world raising myriad issues on existing practices.

In keeping with the focus of SEAPA’s work in the promotion and protection of the media freedom and freedom of expression, the scope of the fellowship will limit to issues concerning the legal framework impacting online expression, ethics of online media, state policies governance and cybercrime laws, etc.


  1. To facilitate up to eight eligible journalists/bloggers in the SEA countries to develop stories on the issue of internet governance.
  2. To strengthen SEAPA’s network for promoting and protecting press freedom and freedom and expression.
  3. To share selected stories by fellows widely and at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali, in October 2013.

Expected Results

  1. Between five and eight stories on internet governance will be produced and shared.
  2. Involvement of the fellows in SEAPA’s network, especially in dealing with advocacy for promoting and protecting press freedom and freedom of expression.
  3. Participation of SEAPA fellows at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
The IGF has provided a multi-stakeholder platform on public policy issues since its establishment in 2006. IGF discusses all aspects of the Internet, from the technical infrastructure to access, ownership, content and security, among others.

The IGF provides equal space for both developing countries and wealthier nations to engage in debate on Internet governance, and to facilitate their participation in existing institutions and arrangements.

For developing countries in Southeast Asia with millions of online users, IGF is an opportunity to have focused discussion on Internet issues in the region including from the perspective of freedom of expression (FOE).

The IGF meeting this year, which will be held in Bali, Indonesia, provides a good opportunity for SEAPA in highlighting the theme and possibly direct media attention to the forum and its issues. It is hoped that through the fellowship, SEAPA can:
  1. Raise the importance of debates surrounding internet governance among the media community in Southeast Asia.
  2. Encourage media participation at the IGF meeting for coverage and as stakeholders.


SEAPA encourages eligible and qualified journalists and bloggers to explore and share their outlooks and challenges in Internet governance particularly in the region. Possible questions or sub-themes could include:
  • How the different media are affected by the rise of online media including social media and thus the changes in interaction between the public.
  • How freedom of expression is affected by the growth of Internet access.
  • How different sectors or stakeholders grasp with the opportunities or threats posed by the platform, free flow of content and information.
  • How states are coping and responding to the rise in popularity of the online platform.
  • How online communities and advocacy initiatives are able to determine best ways to govern the Internet.


The fellowship is open to working journalists with at least five years experience in writing for print, broadcast or online media, either as staff or freelance writers/bloggers. They should be nationals of the following countries in Southeast Asia ONLY: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.
A panel of judges will select the successful proposals, which will be based on the following criteria:
  1. Strength of the story proposal, relevance to the theme
  2. Good personal statement – contribution of the fellowship to concrete professional goals of the applicant
  3. Practicability of the story idea/work plan



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Cambodia Jobs: Freedom of Expression Challenges to Internet Governance
Freedom of Expression Challenges to Internet Governance
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