In late 2007 APC members from five continents met to debate the challenges for a free and open internet for the next five years (pictured right). Six strategic priorities emerged which have guided APC’s work as a network and an organisation since then.
1. Advocate for affordable internet access for all
2. Secure and defend internet rights
3. Use emerging technologies for social change
4. Make technology work to sustain the environment
5. Build the information commons
6. Improve governance, especially internet governance
There were two cross-cutting goals: gender equality and women’s empowerment, both in policy and strategic use of ICTs and “openness” including access to information and freedom of expression.
Here we outline some –but not all— of our actions in each area. You can also download an overview of APC’s 2009-12 strategic plan.
1) Advocate for affordable internet access for all
New advances in technology open up new opportunities for accessing the internet but inadequate public policy can hinder their potential. Figures show wide disparities in access, especially for those living at the economic and geographic margins of society. That is why APC has been focusing on identifying new policy challenges that have implications for ensuring access to a free and open internet.
Recent initiatives include:
- Open spectrum for development Our research critiques the policy environments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
- Digital migration in West Africa African countries committed to migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2015. We work with civil society, broadcasters, policy-makers and regulators to produce the data and tools required to make informed decisions.
- Pro-poor ICT access toolkit A resource kit for realising a universal access agenda.
2) Secure and defend internet rights
The enormous potential of the internet as a tool for strengthening democratisation is under constant threat in many countries as governments limit online freedoms through censorship and surveillance. Restricting the free flow of information on the internet is a global trend, but its intensity and impact is greatest in countries lacking democratic culture.
- MDG3 Take back the Tech! To end violence against women As part of Millennium Development Goal 3 to promote gender equality we are working with women in 12 countries to use technology to end violence against women – and to fight violence carried out online or on mobiles. Take Back the Tech! is also an international campaign since 2006.
- Connect Your Rights! Internet rights are human rights A campaign which includes documenting trends, lobbying for freedom of expression and to information in international forums and training human rights activists to use the internet securely.
- GISWatch 2011 will focus on internet rights and is out in late 2011.
- GenderIT.org A website for women’s movements, information and ICT advocates and policy makers to ensure that ICT policy meets women’s needs and does not infringe on their rights.
- EroTICs – Sexuality rights and the internet Breakthrough study in Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa & USA is showing the internet hosts critical info about sex education, health, fighting sex discrimination and defining your own sexuality. Sexuality online is not just about porn.
3) Use emerging technologies for social change
Using technology for social change has been our reason for being. In the early 90s, we pioneered in building the capacity of civil society organisations, mostly in developing countries, in online networking. Today, as social networking tools are more and more popular, we are working with a diversity of women’s and girls’ rights activists, rural community organisations, civil society organisations and activist researchers in capacity building activities, small grants and research projects.
- Take Back the Tech! Fund Small grants to end violence against women through technology. A quarter of a million dollars disbursed to over 60 grassroots initiatives.
- Feminist tech eXchanges (FTX) To empower women through technology. There is a huge demand for FTXs from the women’s movement for this hands-on training.
- GenARDIS Changing the lives of rural women through small grants. This project has now ended but we see it has had a great impact on women’s lives and we continue to look for support for it. If you can help please write to us at info @ apc.org.
- Impact 2.0 Experimenting with social networking for policy change in Latin America.
4) Make technology work to sustain the environment
Increased use of ICTs is both a hazard and a potential aid to a sustainable environment. While energy consumption by internet networks, particularly server infrastructure, and electronic waste have grown exponentially, so have the ways in which ICTs can help us foster sustainability and protect the environment.
- GreeningIT – APC on ICTs, climate change & environmental sustainability Research to better understand the challenges facing us, especially in developing countries, in using ICTs sustainably —particularly in the context of climate change— and to identify gaps in the linkages between policies, standards and implementation.
- GISWatch 2010: ICTs and environmental sustainability Reports from 53 countries and six regions including Latin America and the Middle East and exploring the issues in ten expert reports.
- GreeningIT directory A growing collection of hundreds of ICT and environmental resources.
5) Build the information commons
APC’s rights-oriented approach to the internet is rooted in our belief that the internet is a global public good. APC wants to help protect and grow the existing information and knowledge commons so more people can benefit from having access to cultural goods like music and film and learning materials. All of our materials and resesarch are offered freely under Creative Commons licences. We have also supported freen and open source software since the 1990s.
- Media Piracy in South Africa APC carried out research for the Social Sciences Research Council’s report on Media Piracy in Emerging Economies in South Africa and is helping translate the research into Spanish.
6) Improve governance, especially internet governance
Improved governance at the local and national level is essential to social justice and development. This includes public participation, access to information, transparency and accountability — but ensuring that the internet is recognised and managed as a global public good consistent with human rights is a major challenge.
Over the last five years issues of accountability and transparency have come to the fore in global ICT policy spaces. APC is promoting enhanced cooperation and advocacy for a free and open internet at international and regional Internet Governance Forums as well as the World Summit on the Information Society, the UN Commission for Science, Technology and Development and to a lesser extent ICANN.