Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Support of Publishers - Panelist Bios

Posting content online does not guarantee that it will be available to the people who need it when they need it. Internet repressive regimes regularly block political and social content. Research indicates that no more than 3% of users in countries where internet filtering is pervasive choose to use anti-censorship tools. Website hacking and Denial of Service attacks are increasingly used to silence voices online at critical moments. This panel will discuss creative approaches to protecting online content, defeating attempts to censor content, and quickly reintroducing blocked content beyond the firewall. The panel will explore practical approaches that publishers can take to more effectively make their content available to their audience.


Mehdi Yahyanejad (Moderator) - Balatarin

Dr. Mehdi Yahyanejad is the founder of the website, the most popular user-generated news website in Persian. The Balatarin community of users and readers have played a crucial role in the pro-democracy movement in Iran. He has been pursuing and researching social media and web 2.0 development for the past five years. He is currently a research scientist at University of Southern California. Dr. Yahyanejad received his PhD in Physics from MIT with expertise in statistical methods and won the bronze medal in the 1993 International Physics Olympiad. 

 André Mendes - Broadcasting Board of Governors

The Director of the Office of Technology, Services and Innovation provides executive leadership in the planning, development, and operation of all the engineering and technical systems necessary to communicate with the people of the world by radio, TV, and the Internet, including a world-wide satellite and transmitting station network, as well as planning for the use of new technological improvements and efficiencies.

André Mendes most recently served as senior vice president, strategic planning and global CIO, for Special Olympics International, managing the organization’s global technology infrastructure, the development of the 2011-2015 Special Olympics Strategic Plan and administering the Christmas Record Trust Fund.  Previously he served as Chief Technology Integration Officer for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), where he was responsible for both Information Technology and Broadcast Engineering during the Service’s $1.8 billion transition to digital television and managed PBS’ migration from a legacy tape-based environment to a ground breaking, entirely file-driven content workflow.

André has received numerous industry awards for his work, including one of the 2008 MIT Awards for IT Innovation.

Dmitri Vitiev -

Dmitri Vitaliev is a technology consultant for human rights and independent media organizations and director of He has led and participated in research and training missions to over 40 countries. He is the author of the Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual and a one-time coordinator of the Security-in-a-Box project. Dmitri has helped create worldwide networks of trainers and security specialists, developed curricula and information management strategies for leading human rights organizations and is a regular contributor to technology publications. He has presented on various topics relating to information security and privacy at international conferences, technology forums and ‘hacker spaces’. He has helped coordinate digital investigations and organize Internet campaigns during public actions in totalitarian countries facing social and political transformation. Currently, Dmitri spends his coordinating technology projects under’s mantle and is always on the lookout for innovative solutions that can positively impact civil society.  

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