You do have a choice: APC organises TakeBackTheNet! event

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By APC for APCNews

26 April 2014

TakeBackTheNet! is the name of a one-of-a-kind event organised by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), where human rights advocates and transformative technology providers will meet to discuss solutions to today’s climate of internet-enabled human rights violations and loss of privacy through “free” cloud-based internet services.

Scheduled as a two-day forum to be held in Barcelona on 4-5 June 2014, one year after the Edward Snowden revelations, TakeBackTheNet! comes at a crucial time. The outcry in the face of numerous reports of privacy and other human rights violations has not produced satisfactory responses from governments and communication service providers. Privacy as we knew it is a thing of the past. Most of these changes have taken place without the conscious awareness of internet users. We all need to be aware of how the privacy and digital security landscape is changing and what can be done to protect our digital rights and the rights of others.

Progressive service providers are sparking an exodus, the beginnings of a movement, through online services provision built on trust, privacy rights and data sovereignty. There is an opportunity for civil society and tech activists to take measures into their own hands by adopting tools that give them more control, are more environmentally sustainable, and liberating. It is time that social change activists TakeBackTheNet! and exercise their choice to migrate to digital services that respect their right to privacy and encryption.

The time is ripe for a wide gathering, which APC believes will spark a global movement. Expected outcomes from the event are:

  • Strategic discussion among technologists, developers and foundations on how to best give users control over their own data and use of the internet.
  • Identification of gaps that collaboration among developers and users can address.
  • Awareness about available free and open source tools.
  • Awareness of options for locally owned and run network infrastructure.
  • More mindful making of technology choices – hardware and software – in terms of their impact on the environment.
  • A strengthened global movement among social change activists to migrate to safer alternative platforms and tools for their online work.

TakeBackTheNet! will have a participant-driven unconference format. This means that organisations, activists, service providers and technologists can propose sessions ranging in scope from roundtable discussions to hands-on workshops.

The agenda will be created by the attendees at the beginning of the first day. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. APC will encourage all sessions to be open discussions or workshops rather than having a single speaker heading the talk, although some high-profile speakers may be invited to address the attendees in plenary.

Some of the key partners of the event include Tactical Tech, Web We Want, CiviCRM, LEAP, eQualit.ie, Front Line Defenders, AkiraChix, Guifi.net and Open for Change, among others.

APC members such as Pangea, May First/People Link and SPACE Kerala will also be key in the development of this initiative, and all APC members are invited to attend as the event is being held in conjunction with APC’s 2014 Member Meeting.

The event is meant to be inspirational and practical, rather than rhetorical and ideological. Participants in the TakeBackTheNet! event will leave with the knowledge that they do have choice, and that they can be more empowered and safe in their use of technology and online platforms by adopting tools that are sustainable and liberating.

Image under Creative Commons license by nrkbeta .

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