What is the relationship between access and power? APC at the Stockholm Internet Forum 2017

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By APC for APCNews

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, 15 May 2017

The Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF), an international forum for discussions on how a free, open and secure internet promotes human rights and development worldwide, has started in Stockholm.

Hosted by the the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), this space aims to bring together policy makers, civil society representatives, activists, business representatives and technical community representatives. At APC, we have been involved in the Forum since its inception, mostly focusing on ensuring that a global South and feminist perspective is incorporated into the discussions about access, which is featured as this edition’s main theme.

Access and power

This year’s edition of the SIF focuses on the connections between access and power. What are the benefits of internet accessibility, from the political, social and economic aspects of power? How can the community building, collaboration and learning components of the Forum help participants the most?

In past editions, APC and its network of members have highlighted the need for more women to be brought into internet governance spaces to engage and learn from debates, but also to reframe discussions from a women’s rights perspective. “Access will remain a singular issue rather than the complex animal that it is, if we don’t ensure that women, with a clear experience and understanding of the intersections of gender and internet rights, are in leadership positions in internet governance structures,” was one of the insights shared by participants in SIF 2015.

This year, our main goals/concerns revolve around:

  • Power and access: What is the relationship between access and power? How do we understand power in its multiple forms and emanation: structural, discursive, embodied and networked?
  • Community access: How can we raise awareness of community access options, ensuring gender aspects are incorporated?
  • Online gender-based violence (GBV): By bringing together UN Special Rapporteurs for a discussion on gender-based violence and freedom of expression, we aim to build momentum for a joint declaration on GBV and freedom of expression online.
  • Freedom Online Coalition (FOC): We will take part in consultations on the future of the Freedom Online Coalition’s work and also reflect on our contributions to the FOC working group “An internet free and secure”, to which Mallory Knodel, APC’s senior technical coordinator, helped to advance the notion that cybersecurity should respect human rights.

In addition to part of our staff, several of our members will be attending SIF, including member organisations Social Media Exchange, Media Matters for Democracy, Derechos Digitales, Kenya ICT Action Network, Zenzeleni Networks, Instituto DEMOS, CIPESA, Digital Empowerment Foundation, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Pangea, Point of View and Rhizomatica, as well as individual member Japleen Pasricha of Feminism in India.

The Forum’s welcome session will be hosted by Jac sm Kee, APC’s Women’s Rights Programme manager. Here is an overview:

“Access to the internet has become a critical component in our ability to engage fully in an increasingly digitally networked world. From the intimacy of forming relationships, to the transitional movements of labour and resources, to the participation in socio-political governance. We have witnessed how shifts in internet technology development in the last few decades have contributed to shifts in how we think and act in relation to democratic participation, dissent and expression, sexuality and embodiment, privacy and public domains, economic distribution and transparency, and to collective and individual power.

“What is the relationship between access and power? How do we understand power in its multiple forms and emanation: structural, discursive, embodied and networked? As a metaphor, access to the internet is about living in an age where imagination is the next step ahead, with one foot firmly grounded on the complex realities and implications of the now. This session invites an opening of this conversation, to explore the multiple dimensions of the interconnection between power and access, its impact towards different bodies, spaces and relations, towards an imagination of what is possible, and needed.”

Check out the rest of the agenda here, follow the Forum on #SIF17, and email flavia@apc.org or leila@apc.org for interviews, resources, or to contact speakers at the Forum.

(END/2017)

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