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In our autumn 2020 podcast we speak with Hong Kong-based journalist Oliver Farry, who discusses the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in the region, which was once a beacon of free expression. And New York-based journalist Michella Oré tells us why, even if Donald Trump doesn’t win a second presidential term, his stint in The White House has sparked a fire in the USA which will be hard to put out. Also Jemimah Steinfeld and Orna Herr from the Index editorial team discuss their favourite articles from the new magazine.
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This letter appeared in the Financial Times
Sir, Your editorial (“Obama’s realist foreign policy”, September 27) claims that free speech purists were offended by Barack Obama’s comments on Innocence of Muslims. As an organisation that defends free expression around the world, Index on Censorship would certainly include itself in the free speech purist camp. Even the president of the US is entitled to say what he likes under the first amendment, as long as he upholds that vital part of the US constitution for all.
In his address this week to world leaders at the UN General Assembly, President Obama defended “the right of all people to express their views — even views that we disagree with”.
However, in reality, the White House is guilty of “reaching out” to Google to look into taking the video off YouTube on the grounds that it breached Google’s terms of service, justifying its removal. This intervention by the US government suggests censorship by stealth, whereby governments can claim to protect free speech while putting pressure on “middle men” such as internet service providers to censor for them. All of which raises the question: “Who should control the internet?”
Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship, London EC1, UK