2010 promises to be a significant year for the future of the internet with a number of potential changes on the horizon. It could be the last year of existence for the Internet Governance Forum and ICANN is confronting big changes as it moves out from under the control of the US government. In this time of flux, policy windows can open and close quickly. APC is building a worldwide network of civil society policy advocates from different spheres of policy work and with diverse campaigning experiences who all have a vested interest in ensuring that the internet is free and open.
Following the impact of Global Information Society Watch 2009 which put the spotlight on “access to knowledge for advancing democracy and human rights”, the University of Yale has invited GISWatch co-publisher APC to co-convene their fourth Access to Knowledge Conference. The conference organised by Yale’s information society project will unite scholars and human rights activists to look at designing laws, policies and technical architectures to promote “social progress across the globe”. Find out more about the conference.
In Cameroon, internet and telephone services are unaffordable – to the extent that at least half of the population has to resort to illegal operators, which are the only ones to make services like the internet affordable to the average Cameroonian.
Digital Empowerment Foundation of New Delhi has a wealth of experience in digital empowerment for women, children, and rural communities in India. The non-profit founded in 2003 by a former software company owner was created to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban India. Partnering with other organisations and government agencies, APC’s newest member has made a name for itself by making a big difference in small rural communities.
Dominican Republic guarantees women's equality in technology initiatives and policies across the country
The Dominican Republic is the first Latin American country to act on their commitments to involve women in the information society nationwide. This Caribbean island nation of ten million has promised to include a “gender perspective” in every information and communications technology initiative and policy developed by the government from now on. “This is great news for women’s equality in the Dominican Republic,” said APC’s Dafne Plou who trained government officials in November. “And it’s potentially a breakthrough for millions of other women in Latin America because the Dominican Republic is leading Latin American governments’ thinking around gender and technology as part of the regional eLAC2010 plan”. The tool the Dominicans have chosen to design and evaluate all the public policies is the APC gender evaluation methodology (GEM).
Studies reveal that the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) makes up 2% of all global emissions – the same amount as the airline industry. By 2012, 4.5 billion people will have access to a mobile phone – the majority will be those live on less than USD 2 a day and be the most likely to be affected by climate change. “Planting the Knowledge Seed – Adapting to climate change using ICTs”, a publication from the Building Communication Opportunities alliance, explores the practical linkages between climate change, access to and sharing of information and knowledge and communication for development.
Today hundreds of people will march through Montreal in support of APC member Alternatives – a non-profit organisation which has helped thousands of people living in some of the most difficult situations in the world. Alternatives has come under attack from the right-wing Conservative government in Canada and it is rumoured faces savage funding cuts which could threaten its existence. Join the Facebook campaign to Save Alternatives and send your letters of support.
It’s not easy to find the funds to get to the remote five-star locations the Internet Governance Forum thrives in. Women, people of colour, people with disabilities, indigenous people, poor people were conspicous in their abscence or low numbers. The IGF has no decision-making authority. However, there are few international policy fora where you can participate without having to slash through a forest of red tape and protocol. And decision-power or not, the IGF does have an impact on how the internet is run through the persuasive power of multistakeholder dialogue. Jac sm Kee sums up the IGF.
This year the fourth internet governance forum was playing it safe – perhaps because next year could be its last – but we still saw real progress. Privacy no longer plays second fiddle to security, people’s rights online are recognised as central by all sides. Social networking was the new star centre stage. There are still too few women and people of colour but participants are getting younger which is a good sign. Next year APC hopes for an IGF focusing on development and human rights and looking to the future. Read our assessment (in pdf).
Our worlds are increasingly networked and our personal data collected left, right and centre. Ask anyone who has to use a biometric identity card like Malaysian Jac sm Kee who has to give her ID number even if she’s just buying movie tickets online. We can be sure much of the information collected about us online is not that securely warehoused. So what needs to be done to protect our right to privacy online? And what about our own circle? If a boyfriend broadcasts an intimate photo via mobile phone, what then? Jac argues that in the digital age, personal data is no longer just our property, it has become part of who we are. What will be key in the future will be for us to have as much control as possible over our personal data — and that control should be based on “consent” rather than “protection of privacy”.
Research coming out of the UK shows that British children are blasé about putting sexy images of themselves online. But some adults in governments and industry are intent on seeing children as victims where sexuality and the internet is concerned. Why on earth aren’t the powers-that-be actually listening to kids? asks Maya Ganesh reporting from the IGF.
From 25 November to 10 December, get ready to click your mouse, flex your SMS fingers and engage full energy to take control of technology to end violence against women. APC calls on all of us who use radio, television, internet, emails and mobile phones to Take Back the Tech!
Willie Currie expressed APC’s support for the world’s only existing global debate space on the future of the internet which could come to an end once its five year mandate is over next year saying “The IGF is an innovation in multi-stakeholder internet governance, it works, it is evolving and should continue” but stressed that it should evolve to be more than a dialoguing space and produce concrete outcomes. Read APC’s statement to the IGF.
A new report that reveals how vulnerable the internet as we know it is, has just been published by two global civil society organisations. The annual report, called Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), was released today by APC and Dutch funder Hivos. GISWatch 2009 is entitled “Access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy”.
In 2003, APC launched our first ICT policy handbook “for beginners” to critical acclaim. ICT policy was a relatively new area and very few really understood what was actually involved. The APC handbook was the first comprehensive guide for non-technicians. Now APC has published an entirely rewritten second edition free and online for anyone to download.
Since the inception of the IGF, the Council of Europe, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and APC have been working on a joint initiative on public participation in internet governance. Now a draft code of good practice on transparency, information and participation in internet governance is ready for comment!
A poster promoting a new book called "Access Controlled" was removed by the IGF's organisers who claimed a sentence in the poster violated UN policy. The sentence in question reads "The first generation of Internet controls consisted largely of building firewalls at key Internet gateways; China's famous "Great Firewall of China" is one of the first national Internet filtering systems."
The Internet Governance Forum is the only space of its kind in the world – it acts as a “pressure relief valve” for some of the most important and controversial issues related to the global internet. The IGF is in its fourth year of existence and next year could be its last. APC brings you quickly up to date with some of the most pressing issues to be debated from November 15-18.