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.
The imminent arrival of broadband in Rwanda has exposed a policy vacuum that desperately needs to be filled if the poor in the country are going to benefit from the information society. Having good plans is not enough, argue Emmanuel Habumuremyi and Alan Finlay.
The new Constitution of Ecuador, which was passed in October of 2008, now legitimises the use of wireless networks as a way to achieve universal access. In the debate leading up to the new constitution, the wireless networks were able to boast low cost, sustainability and using existing and free waves to the communities and organisations using them. In an attempt to connect paper to practice, APC conducted a study on the possibilities and the political and regulatory context of this type of network, and explore a few success stories that took place over the last few years.
In rural Latin America, women are fed up of hearing that they are “too old” to use computers. “ The lives of many women in Latin America have changed significantly in the past few decades. Rural women in their thirties have at least primary school education and know their rights thanks in many cases to community radio,” says APC’s Dafne Sabanes Plou. “They are ready for a place in today’s networked world.”
By most standards, Tanzania’s information and communications technology (ICT) policy looks ambitious. In just six years, it wants to make the country a hub of telecommunications infrastructure to help build the economy and end poverty. But John Mireny argues that when it comes to broadband, this vision lacks practical application, and is out of step with the real limitations on the ground….
For twenty days in July, land-locked Niger was without internet connection owing to damage to the undersea cable which goes through neighbouring Benin, and on which Niger depends for 70% of its bandwidth. This APC investigation seeks to understand why this West African country is almost exclusively reliant on Beninese infrastructures, when an alternative satellite solution could have minimised the severity of the situation.
The East African Internet Governance Forum: Advancing the internet governance debate for meaningful participation
The East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EA-IGF), which first convened in 2008, aims at creating a community of practice that will, in the long term, become a sustaining foundation for meaningful participation of East African stakeholders in internet public policy debates at the national, regional and international level. This year’s EA-IGF was held in Nairobi Kenya, with over 200 participants from varying sectors, from fifteen different countries. This year’s forum focused on cyber-crime, policy regulatory needs consumer issues, critical internet resources, and access to broadband.
Privacy advocates and experts from the academic, consumer, digital rights and labor communities will discuss on November 3rd 2009 in Madrid with public officials and the business sector how to raise privacy awareness in the global community; and how better include civil society in the decision making processes for better global privacy and data protection standards. The conference “Global privacy standards in a global world” is being held by the Public Voice, an international coalition of civil societies. Find out how to register.