Global Information Society Watch Press Kit


About the 2018 Global Information Society Watch on Community Networks

This year’s GISWatch focuses on community networks, and it is the result of a partnership between the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Community networks are “communication networks built, owned, operated, and used by citizens in a participatory and open manner.” This is a starting point.

As the 43 country reports gathered here show, in practice, “community networks” can be hybrid systems, with different political and practical objectives. The country reports cover a diverse range of countries such as Georgia, Nepal, South Africa, India, Argentina, Honduras, Portugal, Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Key ideas like participatory governance systems and community ownership and skills transfer, and the “do-it-yourself” spirit that drives community networks, give community networks across the globe a shared purpose and implementation methodology. 

“Community networks should not be conceived as small or weak organisations; they can be constituted as large, sustainable and influential organisations that are in the hands of the people they provide services to.” Sulá Batsú, Costa Rica

“It is a model of slow co-creation with and through the community, and its network has been cared for and used.” Zenzeleni, South Africa

“The basic mode of operation is 'do-ocracy': members suggest actions and, if not vetoed by other members, they go ahead and try to fulfill them.”, Greece

“By connecting over 300 refugee shelters and reception centres, Freifunk [underscores] the significance of its hacker practices for digital infrastructure politics in Germany.” – Freifunk,  Germany

“The most important aspect of sustainability is not whether or not a community network can generate revenue, or how it can survive through contributions from the community. The most important aspect is that the complex structure that guarantees the right to information and communication must be sustainable.” Asociación Civil AlterMundi and Red Comunitaria QuintanaLibre, Argentina

Available online after 13 November 2018 at

Official launch at the Internet Governance Forum in Paris, France, at the headquarters of UNESCO on 13 November 2018, Salle X, 13:30 hs

Contacts for the media:

1) Valeria Betancourt - Communications and Information Policy Programme Manager: 

2) Carlos Rey-Moreno - Community access networks project coordinator:

About GISWatch

Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) is a space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of international (and national) commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society.

It focuses on monitoring progress made towards implementing the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action agenda and other international and national commitments related to information and communications. It also provides analytical overviews of institutions involved in implementation. GISWatch aims to make governments and international organisations accountable for meeting the commitments they make through contributing to building a strong and sustainable global civil society policy advocacy network.

GISWatch is not only a publication, it is a process. The long term goal of the project is to build policy analysis skills and ‘habits’ into the work of civil society organisations that work in the areas of ICT for development, democracy and social justice.

GISWatch is an initiative of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and partners. It follows up on APC's long-term interest in the impact of civil society on governance processes and its efforts to enhance public participation in national and international forums.

I love the project and I think it is a very very unique snapshot of "the internet" and "the real world" - it is a global snapshot and horizon scan... it is very valuable for me to look back on the reports from all the countries and draw comparisons... it is like the story of the internet.. different chapters, different themes, every year. Mireille Raad, Lebanon - GISWatch author

“The fact that GISWatch is being used in universities is encouraging, as universities are highly influential places when it comes to ICT policy. For contributors to have a voice in this space is important.” Alan Finlay, South Africa, GISWatch editor

Quick facts
  • 12 regular GISWatch editions have been launched to date.

  • 7 special GISWatch editions have been published.

  • The average number of country reports in each edition is 47.

  • 566 authors have written for GISWatch to date.

  • In 2012, GISWatch won the WSIS Project Prize from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

GISWatch editions 2007-2017

GISWatch 2017 focuses on National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs), now widely recognised as a vital element of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process, with a total of 54 reports, including 40 country reports, seven regional reports, and seven thematic reports. A special edition of GISWatch was published as a companion edition to the 2017 GISWatch annual report, called “Internet governance from the edges – NRIs in their own words”.

Another 2017 special edition brings together analysis on the criminalisation of online expression from six Asian states: Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand. 

GISWatch 2016 illustrates the link between the internet and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) with 47 country reports and 10 thematic reports.

GISWatch 2015 presents stories from around the world on how the politics of sex and sexual rights activism take place online, with 57 country reports and eight thematic reports.

GISWatch 2014 tracks the state of communications surveillance around the world with 57 country reports and eight thematic reports.

GISWatch 2013 explores women’s rights and gender through the lens of information and communications technologies with 46 country reports and several thematic reports on issues such as access to infrastructure, participation, online disobedience, and sexuality online.

GISWatch 2012 focuses on internet and corruption online with 49 country reports and eight thematic reports, including one institutional review and one mapping report.

GISWatch 2011 focuses on internet rights as human rights with 55 country reports and 10 thematic reports. Some reports are also available in Spanish.

GISWatch 2010 addresses ICTs and environmental sustainability with 53 country reports and six regional overviews.

GISWatch 2009 reports on access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy, with 48 country reports and seven regional overviews. Also in French and Spanish.

GISWatch 2008 tracks access to ICT infrastructure with 38 country reports and six regional overviews. Also in French.

GISWatch 2007 explores citizen participation in ICT policy processes with 26 country reports.

Press coverage highlights

Multimedia resources, publications, and event images 


About APC

APC is an international network of civil society organisations founded in 1990 dedicated to empowering and supporting people working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment, through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). We work to build a world in which all people have easy, equal and affordable access to the creative potential of ICTs to improve their lives and create more democratic and egalitarian societies.

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