Network of networks for a free and open internet

2010 promised 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 -the world’s only international forum bringing together governments, the technical community, businesses and civil society groups like the APC to guide the way the internet is run. ICANN – the organisation that administers website domain addresses – is also 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’s “Network of networks” project 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.

What’s happening in the network of networks?

We are now working on:

  • Creating a forum for “issue networks” (groups of organisations that work on similar issues such as climate change, women’s rights or internet governance) to come together to share their analysis, expertise and networks towards developing a joint strategy to increase the influence of global civil society in internet public policy.
  • Mapping the issues, existing networks and the policy spaces where they all come together (e.g. networks concerned with the technical side of managing the internet, privacy and freedom of expression on the internet and those advocating for internet-access-for-all come together in the Internet Governance Forum).
  • Producing case studies on collaborative advocacy by global civil society in policy spaces around a set of priority issues such as participation in public policy processes, the ‘Development Agenda’ at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), privacy rights in the IGF, open standards development in the International Standards Organisation process, and transparency and accountability in both publicly and privately-controlled internet governance mechanisms.
  • Supporting participating civil society issue networks to deepen their understanding of where power is concentrated and dispersed in relation to public policy issues, and where strategic interventions might be most effective.
  • Building networking and collaboration among some of the world’s leading thinkers and activists in internet governance and rights.
  • Amplifying the influence that global civil society has – already visible in spaces like the IGF and WIPO – on global public policy that shapes how the internet develops, and how people are able to use it with openness and freedom and diversity.

Background

In September 2008, APC convened a small consultation in Geneva to explore building a transnational advocacy network of networks on public policy issues related to internet governance. This work is part of a larger goal of supporting civil society networks in being more effective in ensuring openness, human rights and transparent and accountable governance in the information society sphere. The event was follow-up to a previous project supported by the Ford Foundation which provided support for APC’s global advocacy work to ensure open, universal and affordable access to the internet which among other work produced the first multi-country analysis of civil society participation in ICT policy processes and on access to infrastructure.

Building on the momentum of the meeting comes this initiative called “Strengthening Civil Society Networking and Advocacy on Internet Public Policy in Global Arenas” supported by the Ford Foundation and running from February 2009 to the end of 2010.

Photo: APC (2007). Note: The networks featured in this photo are not necessarily part of the Network of networks project.

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