D4D Statement on Advisory Board Member Maria Ressa

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Maria Ressa

The Advisory Board and members of the Design 4 Democracy Coalition stand in solidarity with fellow board member Maria Ressa and Rappler, the leading independent online news outlet in the Philippines, decrying her politically-motivated conviction on cyber libel charges. 

Ressa faces up to six years in prison on charges widely understood to be an attempt to shut down Ressa and Rappler, due to their longstanding efforts to hold the Rodrigo Duterte presidency to democratic standards of accountability and transparency. 

The Design 4 Democracy Coalition works to ensure that technology furthers democratic integrity and human rights around the world. Both Ressa and Rappler have been on the front lines of that battle, exposing how authoritarians and other malign actors exploit the open internet to manipulate and intimidate their publics, rather than to empower them.

Ressa’s conviction is an affront to freedom of the press, and an effort to undermine the democratic values that underpin the free and open internet.

Speaking at a news conference after her conviction, Ressa said, “I appeal to you, the journalists in this room, the Filipinos who are listening, to protect your rights. We are meant to be a cautionary tale. We are meant to make you afraid. But don't be afraid. Because if you don't use your rights, you will lose them.” Maria Ressa bravely models what it means to consistently stand up for democratic rights.

As ever, we are proud to stand with Maria Ressa.