Strengthening the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation the Focus of Aspen Institute Forum

July 23, 2014

Contact: Sarah Eppehimer
Communications and Society Program
The Aspen Institute

Anusha Alikhan
Director of Communications
Knight Foundation

Strengthening the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation the Focus of Aspen Institute Forum
Aspen Institute and Knight Foundation present FOCAS 2014

Washington, DC – July 23, 2014 – Leaders and experts from the public and private sectors will meet to discuss innovative ways to strengthen the Internet to promote free expression, personal choice and a secure and vibrant economy at a roundtable discussion next month in Aspen, Colorado. The event, taking place August 10-13, will be streamed live at 

The annual Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS), a project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, explores how public policy and private initiatives can better serve communities. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities, is the forum’s sponsor. 

This year’s FOCAS, “Strengthening the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation,” will bring together 35 experts in a roundtable and working group format. Experts will develop approaches to encourage innovation and openness on the Internet. Additionally, the group will come up with innovative solutions for government, businesses and individuals to help ensure the Internet remains an open and equitable platform for free expression, commerce and learning. An interactive report detailing these findings and recommendations will be published online later this year. 

“The goal of FOCAS is to help frame complex issues surrounding the flow of content and commerce over the Internet, our global common medium, and to arrive at actionable steps for moving in the right direction,” said Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.

“The vision of the Internet as an open, accessible forum for shared ideas, learning and information is fading; we have to preserve it,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism and media innovation. “In order to do so we need people to step up and take action; this year’s FOCAS is about doing just that by bringing influencers together to innovate around the challenges facing the Internet today and safeguarding it into the future.” 

Participants in this year’s FOCAS will include established leaders in the field, heads of emerging startups, nonprofit directors and government officials including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Mozilla Foundation Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler, and New York Public Library President and CEO Tony Marx 

“Strengthening the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation” will mark the ninth year that FOCAS is live streaming the event on the Web, with support from Knight Foundation.  FOCAS 2014 will stream live at at 8:45 a.m. MDT August 11-13. Viewers are invited to follow the discussion on twitter @AspenInstitute and @AspenCS and to tweet about the event using #FOCAS14.

This year’s FOCAS forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to invest in strengthening the Internet. In June 2014 Knight announced 19 winners of the Knight News Challenge, which sought ideas to strengthen the Internet for freedom of expression and innovation. Knight also recently announced support to the upcoming W3C20 Anniversary Symposium: The Future of the Web being held on October 29, 2014 in Santa Clara, California, and the Journalism After Snowden initiative, a project of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, 305-908-2646,

About the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program,, addresses the societal impact of communications and information technologies, and provides a multi-disciplinary venue for considered judgment on communications policy issues. 

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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