Politwoops: Major coalition of rights groups call on Twitter to turn it back on

04 SEPTEMBER 2015, GLOBAL
Summary
A major coalition of rights groups from five continents came out in support of Politwoops, calling on Twitter in an open letter to restore API access to the digital accountability tool. Signers from global digital rights and transparency organizations include Access, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Human Rights Watch, Sunlight Foundation, and Open State Foundation — the original creator of Politwoops.

A major coalition of rights groups from five continents came out in support of Politwoops, calling on Twitter in an open letter to restore API access to the digital accountability tool. Signers from global digital rights and transparency organizations include Access, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Human Rights Watch, Sunlight Foundation, and Open State Foundation — the original creator of Politwoops.

Politwoops is an innovative platform that has enabled civil society to see Tweets deleted by politicians. From the U.S. to Australia, and from the Netherlands to Korea, journalists have used Politwoops to understand the views of elected officials and candidates. The coalition letter responds to Twitter’s decision to revoke Politwoops’ access to the API, which instantly disabled the tool in the 32 countries where it is being used.

“The right to information, free speech, and privacy protect people and enable them to hold the powerful to account,” said Arjan El Fassed, Executive Director of Netherlands-based Open State Foundation, which created Politwoops. “By blocking Politwoops, Twitter has decided to forsake these values, and the only people who will benefit are the powerful.”

Other major signers include Alternatif Bilisim (Turkey), Art 34-bis (Italy), Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles (Argentina), Blueprint for Free Speech (Australia), Derechos Digitales (Latin America), Jinbonet (Korea), OpenMedia (Canada), Paradigm Initiative (Nigeria), Pirate Party (Turkey), and Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (Mexico).

“Twitter made a unilateral decision that impacted transparency around the world in 32 countries,” said Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager for Access. “Politwoops is a global tool for the digital age, and Twitter has clamped down on a volunteer-run service that operates in the public interest.”

“The principles of accountability and transparency had the rug swept out from under them,” explained Peter Micek, Senior Policy Counsel at Access. “We have lost a measure of trust in Twitter as a platform for free expression and innovation after this off-course decision.”

"Politicians make decisions for all of us every day,” said Dr. Suelette Dreyfus, Executive Director of Blueprint for Free Speech. “We need to know what's in their heads yesterday, today, and beyond. If they take us into a war, we have a right to know the reasons they gave at the time, not how they spin it later."

The letter is still open and will be gathering signatories. Please email press@accessnow.org.

Quotes
"The right to information, free speech, and privacy protect people and enable them to hold the powerful to account. By blocking Politwoops, Twitter has decided to forsake these values, and the only people who will benefit are the powerful." Arjan El Fassed, Executive Director of Open State Foundation
"Twitter made a unilateral decision that impacted transparency around the world in 32 countries. Politwoops is a global tool for the digital age, and Twitter has clamped down on a volunteer-run service that operates in the public interest." Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager for Access
"The principles of accountability and transparency had the rug swept out from under them. We have lost a measure of trust in Twitter as a platform for free expression and innovation after this off-course decision." Peter Micek, Senior Policy Counsel at Access
"Politicians make decisions for all of us every day. We need to know what's in their heads yesterday, today, and beyond. If they take us into a war, we have a right to know the reasons they gave at the time, not how they spin it later." Dr. Suelette Dreyfus, Executive Director of Blueprint for Free Speech
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About Open State Foundation

Open State Foundation bevordert digitale transparantie door het ontsluiten van open data en de ontwikkeling van innovatieve en creatieve toepassingen te stimuleren.

Open State Foundation promotes digital transparency by unlocking open data and stimulates the development of innovative and creative applications.

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