When we started holding our Big Tent events in London two years ago, we wanted to stir up lively conversation about some of the hot topics relating to the Internet and society. After all, the political meaning of a “big tent” is to attract diverse viewpoints to come together in one place. Since then, we’ve held more than 20 Big Tents on three different continents to debate issues ranging from arts and culture online to the economic impact of the web.

Later today, the Big Tent is coming to Washington, D.C. for the first time. Along with our partner Bloomberg, we'll hear from some of the top names in media, government and the arts for discussions about one of the values we hold most dear: the right to free expression.

Can free speech survive in the digital age? At a time when too many governments deny their citizens the right to dissent, we’ll ask if the Internet is reaching its promise of empowering people around the world. We’ll have sessions on the limits to free speech online, national security in the Internet age, and creativity and freedom on the web.

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt and senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond will be joined by a variety of speakers, including former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, deputy secretary of homeland security Jane Holl Lute, Bloomberg chief content officer Norman Pearlstine, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, and Saudi Arabian comedian and YouTube star Omar Hussein.

Things kick off at 1:30pm EDT today—you can watch the entire event on Bloomberg’s live stream and tune in to the Big Tent Google+ page for updates as the event unfolds. Later on, we’ll also upload video clips to the Big Tent YouTube channel. We hope you’ll join us for exciting conversations about how to best keep the Internet free and open.