Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996, this year’s Webby Awards received nearly 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide, and more than 600,000 voters took part in selecting the winners.
“To be selected as the winner out of 13,000 entries is a tremendous honor, and it recognizes the real achievement here, which is the ongoing dissemination of outside information to millions of people living under the world’s most repressive government,” said HRF board member and North Korean defector Yeonmi Park. “Information will transform North Korea and empower its people to seek freedom.”
North Korea is ruled by a dynastic, totalitarian, communist dictatorship. The vast majority of North Koreans have no access to outside information: no internet, no foreign postal mail, and no ability to make phone calls abroad. Only government-sanctioned propaganda is allowed. This monopoly of information allows the Kim dynasty to prolong its brutal dictatorship, which runs on Stalin-style gulags, pervasive political police, and the systematic torture, rape, and murder of civilians.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) launched the award-winning Flash Drives for Freedom program in 2016 with a simple yet powerful call to action: donate a USB drive you have lying around your house to help liberate the minds of North Korean people and provide them with valuable information. Placing outside information into the hands of citizens enables the North Korean people to experience a different reality: one where systematic violence, physical suffering, and intellectual oppression are not the norm.
HRF works in collaboration with defector-run field partners, the North Korea Strategy Center (NKSC), No Chain, and Now Action Unity and Human Rights (NAUH), to help curate the drives’ content, drawing upon their first-hand knowledge of North Korean society dynamics and the needs of North Koreans and ensure that the methods used are still relevant, cost-effective, and best suited to bring open information into the country.
“Flash Drives For Freedom has set the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “This award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and vision of its creators.”
The Human Rights Foundation will be honored at the star-studded WFH: Webbys From Home Internet Celebration on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 3pm ET.
HRF and other winners will deliver The Webby Awards’ hallmark 5-Word Speech during the first-of-its-kind celebration. Fans can follow #Webbys on social to see the Internet Celebration. A full list of both The Webby Awards and Webby People’s Voice Winners can be found here.
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The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.