APC at the Stockholm Internet Forum 2019: Defending human rights in the context of shrinking democratic spaces online

By APCNews 14 May 2019

The Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF), organised by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is taking place between 16 and 17 May in Stockholm, preceded by the activities happening at the Pre-SIF on 15 May.

The Forum aims to provide a space to explore the most recent threats against democracy online and the responses needed to mobilise openness in the context of shrinking democratic spaces online, as this year’s theme addresses.

A key goal of the APC community’s participation at the SIF this year is to highlight strategies to promote meaningful internet access and decrease the digital divide, which we continue to do through our activities and projects, including our latest community networks project.

“There is significant evidence that the models that have made it possible to reach 50% of the people on the planet won't be the ones connecting the other 50%,” APC's local access policy and regulation coordinator Carlos Rey-Moreno explained. “Supporting and enabling alternative models such as community networks is a good strategy to provide affordable access to those who still don't have it.”

In the words of Lilian Chamorro from APC member organisation Colnodo, which has implemented a community wireless network to provide information and communications technology services in rural areas of Colombia, it is key to have different actors work together. “We work with civil society, rural communities (campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities), academia, government and the private sector with one clear goal: to build an ecosystem that we hope will promote the creation and growth of community networks in our country and help close the digital divide.”

Sessions organised, co-organised or with participation of the APC community

Pre-SIF - 15 May

10:15-12:00: Workshop: Countering shrinking spaces – Movement building in a digital age

Lightning talks and interactive group discussions

Organiser: Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

13:15-14:30: Geographical sessions and workshops covering different regional areas:

  • Latin America – The new faces of censorship in Latin America – Organiser: Derechos Digitales

  • Southeast Asia – Defending democratic space: Digital rights movement building in Southeast Asia – Organiser: EngageMedia

  • Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – Shrinking from two sides: MENA’s online space under assault by tech companies and governments – Organisers: 7amleh – Arab Center for Social Media Advancement and International Media Support (IMS)

15:15-17:00: Thematic sessions and workshops addressing the following topics:

  • Defining meaningful access
    Organiser: Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)

  • Gendering community networks
    Organiser: Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

SIF Day 1: Thursday, 16 May

11:30-12:30: The shifting terrain of gender-based violence online

Co-organiser: Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Why should you join this panel? During recent years, concerns about gender-based violence (GBV) online have gained wide recognition. The 2018 Human Rights Council resolution’s inclusion of “violence against women and girls in digital contexts”, the updated CEDAW General Recommendation 35’s reference to “violence occurring on the internet”, and the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women’s latest report focusing on online GBV are evidence of this. At the same time, the shrinking democratic space both offline and online has worsened the situation for women and other communities at risk, and in particular for women human rights defenders. This panel recognises a shifting terrain which requires agility in reflection and strategies for the future.

SIF – Day 2: Friday, 17 May

11:00-12:15: Innovative approaches to access

Co-organiser: APC, with speakers from Colnodo, Digital Empowerment Foundation, guifi.net, KICTANet and REDES AC

Why should you join this panel? Affordable access to the internet and telecommunications networks can directly impact democratic participation in online spaces. While connectivity is becoming more pervasive, to the point where about half the world has access to the internet, the rate of growth of network infrastructure is slowing in both mobile and internet infrastructure. There is an opportunity to re-think affordable access by embracing innovations in licensing strategies, universal service funds, affordable access to spectrum, and recognition of the value of new organisational models such as cooperatives, common-pool-resource organisations and other non-profit initiatives which have proven to be viable alternatives to commercial models. This session will examine some of these alternative and complementary models and how they are already contributing towards opening up spaces for participation for those left behind by the telecoms market.

More information

See the updated schedule here.

See the list of participants here.

The Forum can be followed remotely through the #SIF19 hashtag and by following @fxinternet on Twitter. APC will be sharing live updates on @apc_news



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