Lahore University of Management Sciences

Prof Abid Imam Represents LUMS at Internet at Liberty 2012

May 25, 2012

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The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) was one of 15 academic institutions invited to participate in the 'Internet at Liberty 2012' Conference held in Washington, D.C from May 23 - 25, 2012 sponsored by the internet search giant Google. Prof. Abid Hussain Imam of the Department of Law and Policy and one of LUMS faculty members active in the recently launched LUMS Research Initiative on Internet and Society represented LUMS at the event and shared the work being done at LUMS in this area with the hundreds of participants who attended the event.

Internet at Liberty conferences are a series of annual gatherings which bring together global activists and representatives of academic centres, corporations, governments, the media and NGOs from all over the world. The 2012 conference, sponsored by Google and held at The Neweum in Washington DC, explored creative ways to expand the free flow of information online. A select group of 15 leading global academic institutions were invited to join the activists and experts from around the world to explore one of the most pressing dilemmas and exciting opportunities around free expression in the digital age. This group of academic research partners then met on May 25, 2012 to discuss research directions and strategies for better research in this area.

Representing LUMS, Professor Abid Hussain Imam made a presentation sharing with other academic institutions details about the "LUMS Internet and Society Initiative" and actively engaged with other participants on issues ranging from the limits of free speech online and internet censorship, questions of  intermediary liability, intellectual property reform and concerns, internet filtering, net neutrality, internet and media regulation and issues related to judicial capacity building. These issues have become all the more important for Pakistan in light of recent attempts to 'control' the internet in Pakistan, including the very recent shutdown of Twitter for some hours in Pakistan and the earlier shutdown of Facebook.

The main theme at the conference reflected the belief that the Internet as a global, free, and open resource, is constantly developing. The Internet can shift power, broaden scope, and accelerate political and economic change. Simultaneously, governments and multinational companies shape what is possible online. Today, more than any time in history, technological and political forces are colliding to draw lines about how the Internet functions. The conference explored creative ways to expand the free flow of information online, hosted debates about today's most pressing internet freedom issues, and conducted action-oriented workshops.

The LUMS Initiative on Internet and Society is a cross-university interdisciplinary research effort that brings together various independent efforts and projects related to cyberspace and the internet that are going on at LUMS. One of these projects is on Internet Law and Society while another is on the use of technology for development. These and other projects in the Initiative have clear and deep links to the question of Internet rights and internet freedom, an area in which the initiative intends to expand its efforts.

Pakistan was represented at the Internet and Liberty 2012 conference by a large delegation. In addition to Prof. Abid Hussain Imam from LUMS, it also included Jehan Ara, President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA); Sana Saleem, CEO Bolo Bhi; journalist and commentator Afia Salam; journalist and Knight Fellow Sahar Habib Ghazi, and others.