Censorship, Edward Snowden and Ukraine are the big topics for finalists in The Bobs awards for online activism. Now it’s up to the public to look over the nominees and cast votes for the winners.
There has been a lot of news over the last year to serve as inspiration for Internet activists. Increasing censorship and attacks on citizen journalists and systematic government surveillance have sparked new ways of encrypting data and protecting communications. Protests in Turkey last summer are still on the minds of many even as the world looks to see how the futures of Ukraine and Crimea will develop.
For many of the people whose projects have been nominated for The Bobs, DW’s annual award for the best in online activism, the Internet is one of the few free places left. Whether it’s women’s rights, activists in Arab countries or individuals who openly criticize the government in China, they face potential prosecution, imprisonment or worse for their work to promote human rights and freedom of expression.
We can make a difference
Russian blogger and Bobs jury member Alena Popova says she expects much attention to be paid to the situation in Ukraine and ties to Russia.
«Online activism has shown that Russian society is ripe for change,» says Popova. «We help each other and can make a difference. Not even state propaganda can shake this belief.»
More than 3,000 submissions were made by Internet users to The Bobs 2014. It was up to the 15-member jury to select the best in each of the contest’s categories.
Starting Wednesday, voting for the winners begins in all 14 of the contest’s languages – including the six main, multilingual categories where projects from around the world go head-to-head.
From human rights to a grumpy chancellor
Among the choices at thebobs.com: «Um lar para Snowden» a campaign for Brazil to offer asylum to former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
There’s also Lantern, a peer-to-peer network that allows people with unfettered Internet access to share websites, which their friends in less open countries can’t get to.
The Facebook page EuroMaydan serves as an important source of information for events in Ukraine and is followed by more than 280,000 people.
Emmabuntus.org provides an operating system that keeps older computers up and running in developing and emerging nations.
And in the «Most Creative and Original» category there are knitters, a grumpy world leader and a hip-hop look at classic literature.
The public has until May 7 to cast votes for their favorites to win The Bobs People’s Choice Awards.
Since it started 10 years ago, The Bobs have also awarded Jury Awards determined by discussions among the jury panel.
As authoritarian regimes continue to make life difficult for bloggers, citizen journalists and human rights activists, the Jury Awards highlight the work of people who raise their voices in support of freedom of expression.
Among the jury are Arash Abadpour, a Toronto-based Iranian blogger, Shahidul Alam, a prize-winning photographer and international activist who founded the Human Rights Network in his home of Bangladesh.
Chinese university professor Hu Yong has joined The Bobs jury for a second year, though he is unable to take part in the panel’s deliberations in Berlin as the Chinese government has «recommended» that he does not leave the country.