This is #1,000 post on the CIPE Development Blog. We thought that this small anniversary is a good reason for some reflection.
Since we launched the blog four years ago in December 2005, the online environment has changed significantly. Blogging for democracy and economic freedom is spreading, especially in places where traditional media is tightly controlled. What was a novelty four years ago – such as blogging in Iran or Cuba – has become accepted as a given. In many instances, we turn to electronic communications as a means of getting information from countries where that information is tightly controlled. In many instances, electronic means of communications become the only way for civil society, anti-corruption activists, human rights defenders, and others to expose wrongdoing and voice their opinions.
But repressive governments are adjusting. They are recognizing the dangers blogging poses to opaque systems, corruption, lack of access to information, and tight political control. Last year we saw the record number of bloggers arrested for posting information critical of governments and government policies. A number of high profile stories captured our attention this year, such as the recent arrests and beatings of bloggers in Egypt and Cuba.
These are not just regular people. In fact, half of all the journalists jailed in countries around the world publish their work online, many as freelancers. They are becoming a check on unconstrained government power and a source of information. And the price they pay for their work is all too often personal.
Remembering that blogging for democracy and economic freedom is often a personal risk for many, we should not take for granted the opportunities we get to express our opinions, disagree with government policies, and debate key socio-economic issues. Expressing one’s own opinions is both a right and a privilege. Gustavo Azocar, Mos’ad Abu Fagr, and many others would attest to that.