In many ways, the year 2000 was a turning point for APC. The communications revolution of the previous ten years had been both a great challenge and an opportunity. By the mid-1990s, our members were forced to make the transition from being pioneers in the use of online communication to facing intense competition. APC itself needed to broaden its focus from primarily facilitating technical interconnection, to embracing the emerging ICT for justice and development movement in a holistic way.
In the course of 2002 APC focused its energies primarily in two areas: strategic use of ICTs by civil society and engaging civil society in ICT policy processes. The use of ICTs by civil society has been central to APC since its founding. We have been working on ICT policy issues since 2000 when our members identified ensuring internet rights for civil society as a priority. These are therefore not new focus areas for APC, however, during 2002 we approached them in a new way. We wanted to delve beneath the surface of the challenges our communities confront, and find ways to responding to them at more than just the symptomatic level.
The year 2003 was memorable for one particular process that galvanised APC’s efforts – the World Summit on the Information Society which took place in Geneva in December 2003. WSIS was a watershed in public participation as information and communications policy shifted from the obscure world of techno-jargon to be recognised as social policy that affects everyone. From APC’s perspective as a network of ‘social techies’ this was a major breakthrough.
There are more than a billion internet users worldwide, and the number is set to double within the next ten years. What will the next billion users mean to the Internet itself? How will it affect the network, the technology, the computer software industry, access to knowledge, and our environment?
In 2004, APC became focused on producing policy commentaries, proposals and positions, reflecting its independent and critical perspective. APC formed strategic alliances with like-minded groups with whom for instance it promoted the position that the internet is a global public good. The APC annual report 2004 includes APC’s advocacy work for the United Nations summit on the information society (WSIS) as well as in stimulating and supporting accelerated ICT policy and regulatory reform in six African countries.
La sociedad civil y la sociedad de la información: Participación en la Cumbre Mundial sobre la Sociedad de la información
This paper was published in Spanish.
Many APC and APC WNSP members will be present at this conference on the future. More than 2,000 people are expected from goverments, the private sector and civil society.