These small grants up to USD 5,000 are for action research projects that are linked to advocacy. The projects can be part of the ongoing advocacy work of members, or they can be initiatives undertaken in response to emerging issues. Small grants are for local campaigns that contribute to members’ advocacy work and they are also meant to enable members to participate in APC-wide campaigns such as the Take Back the Tech!
Point of View: Sexing the Interwebs
Deep Dives is an online imprint exploring relatively uncharted waters, hosted under Point of View (PoV). The first series, Sexing the Interwebs, tells in-depth stories at the intersection of sex, gender and technology in the Indian context. Stories mostly take the form of long-form narrative, alongside the occasional art, poetry and fiction. “Season One” of Sexing the Interwebs ran from June to December 2015, and featured stories including an exploration of India’s badass girl gamers, an essay investigating abuse faced by women in the FOSS community, and many more. Sexing the Interwebs: Season Two will begin in October 2016, and PoV has an exciting array of stories lined up. These include an essay on the gendered nature of surveillance projects; a piece on rural sex workers using mobile phones; an in-depth investigation of a rape video case at a university; a reported essay on how India’s asexuality community is coming out online; and many more.
As a series, Sexing the Interwebs is the only media initiative in India consistently putting out high-quality content in the space of gender, sex and tech. The first series was widely read, recommended by Medium staff, and republished by several mainstream publications including The Daily Dot, Scroll.in and The Wire.
The impact of Sexing the Interwebs can also be seen beyond readership. Essays are written almost exclusively by women (including trans women), because at Point of View, they believe that women’s voices, writing and art have the potential to change the world. Moreover, Deep Dives’ presence on Medium.com, which has a highly interactive layout, means that the project is creating a space where people can talk freely and frankly about issues of gender, sex and technology – in India and beyond.
Sexing the Interwebs complements the EROTICS India project by reaching a large, diverse, mainstream audience through accessible, fun and well-written essays.
Media Matters for Democracy: Internet rights and prevention of electronic crime in Pakistan
In April 2015, the Ministry of Information and Technology in Pakistan introduced the Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill (PECB 2015) in the National Assembly. The Bill was in direct contradiction with various fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and information and privacy. Digital rights activists in Pakistan resisted and campaigned for the removal of unconstitutional sections of the Bill. In July 2016, the cybercrime legislation was passed and enacted. This Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) project seeks to raise awareness among internet users in general and the media about the impact of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA 2016) on digital and human rights. It will do so by focusing on developing research-based position papers and campaign materials to raise awareness about the impact of this legislation on internet users, particularly the impact on the constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and privacy, as well as internet rights as defined in APC’s Internet Rights Charter.
The project includes outreach to a set of university students, legislators and media, which will enable them to engage in informed discussions around the impact of such regressive legislation, helping to create a larger network of people who can raise their voices against restrictions on the internet and its usage. Engaging these constituencies around this particular Act will also accord the opportunity to strengthen awareness and literacy around people’s digital rights and how they stand to be affected by state policies. In addition, in the longer term, it will help MMfD to create more informed allies who can help extend APC’s own work on rights-based internet governance in the global South.
Rhizomática: Implementation of ITU-D Recommendation 19
This project aims at creating regulatory conditions in different Latin American countries so that local groups and communities can create and operate their own GSM networks, through work with colleagues in Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia. There is a piece of international regulation called ITU-D Recommendation 19 that Rhizomática helped write and get passed that lays some minimal groundwork for local and community networks that need spectrum. They then brought this down to the Americas level with an Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) resolution. Now they are visiting in-country partners to help them move forward with community GSM.
Rhizomática is looking forward to there being clear regulatory and policy pathways, similar to those in Mexico, for social-purpose licensing of GSM and other types of networks. This will mean that organisations and communities will have a legal means to do what they see fit in terms of creating new telecommunications networks.
“We are very keen to share the limited success we’ve had in Mexico with other partners, and the natural way forward has been to start in Latin America,” they explained. Amongst their partners in Brazil and Colombia are Nupef and Colnodo, both APC members. “This type of project looks to open up regulatory spaces for community participation and that is right in line with what APC is all about,” they added.
Nodo TAU: Internet rights in Argentina – Strengthening communities
Digital rights are increasingly being addressed in Argentina today. However, the actors involved in addressing issues related to internet rights do not include social movements, local community organisations and other groups working for different levels of inclusion. Nodo TAU will reach out to representatives of these groups to raise awareness of the issues and promote discussion and debate around the exercise and violation of human rights on the internet.
The project involves four stages. First, Nodo TAU will carry out a survey among roughly 25 organisations in the region working in different fields, such as the environment, gender, human rights, labour and communication rights, among others, to understand their needs with regard to digital inclusion and digital rights.
A second stage will consist of the organisation of a workshop, coordinated by Nodo TAU with the participation of two specialists in digital rights, one from the academic community and the other an expert in women’s rights in the digital field. The purpose of this workshop is to provide capacity building on this issue to members of social organisations and grassroots communities involved in the struggle for access to the internet and workers from the communication field.
At the same time, during these months Nodo TAU will produce a series of journalistic reports to raise awareness among local communities of the current status of internet rights in Argentina. The first report in the series will be dedicated to access.
The fourth objective of the project is to bring together actors from the communication field, members of local organisations and local government representatives who are interested in following the issues and have experience working for the effective enforcement of rights, in order to follow and participate in future debates and contribute to the discussion and definition of public policies.
This is a very challenging project for Nodo TAU because it provides the opportunity to engage with local organisations and offer them a very valuable capacity building space, as well as the possibility of working in coordination with other actors towards building a collective space for addressing digital rights issues. This is particularly significant in the current national context, characterised by a redefinition of social movements. This project will provide the chance to learn, share knowledge and coordinate actions. “In our current context, this is very hopeful,” they explained.
WOUGNET: Implications of Uganda’s internet laws and policies on women’s internet rights
This project seeks to analyse the gender responsiveness of Uganda’s internet laws and policies. By doing this, WOUGNET aims to formulate an advocacy strategy to galvanise support within the policy-making bodies and other stakeholders for greater involvement of women in ICT policies, internet governance and decision-making processes. The main goal is that the unique perspectives of women and girls are captured into internet laws and policies. It is premised on the fact that for the internet to be an all-inclusive and transformative space for everyone, women and girls must be involved in all stages and processes of its development. If women and girls are able to shape, participate in and influence it, they can fully benefit from the opportunities that the internet has to offer.
The project expects to develop advocacy materials and policy briefs, and conduct awareness-raising meetings and conversations to ensure that more women and girls are participating in, contributing to and influencing internet policy discussions and policies for the realisation of women’s rights online. The project is significant for WOUGNET as it forms part of its mission to promote and support the use of ICTs including the internet to empower women and girls to address sustainable development issues in Uganda.
PROTEGE QV: Creation of a group of 20 ambassadors for faster internet in Cameroon
In Cameroon, a country of 22 million inhabitants in Central Africa, the government is developing a digital economy policy using a participatory approach. In fact, as stated by the president of the country during his New Year address, “The digital economy is a growth accelerator, in addition to being a real niche for jobs.”. But Cameroon has a very low level of internet penetration, with internet speeds among the slowest in the world. From the 2014 report of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), it appears that Cameroon ranks 17th in Africa, with only 25.6% of the population connected to the internet, compared to Rwanda (51.6%) or Nigeria (51.2%). A comparative study with a country like Ivory Coast shows that an internet megabit costs five times more in Cameroon. So if the Cameroon government is counting on the internet to revolutionise its economy, the service should be faster and affordable for all.
That is why, following the FASTAfrica campaign launched by the Web We Want Foundation in May 2016, PROTEGE QV wants to strengthen the capacities of 20 people (representatives of CSOs, media, parliamentarians) through a workshop so that they are able to advocate for faster and affordable internet in Cameroon.
As a direct result of these efforts, they expect to have a group of 20 ambassadors for faster and affordable internet, able to identify barriers in their target environment, to formulate an advocacy plan, to develop advocacy tools and to advocate wherever they are. From the messages of those 20 ambassadors and the toolkit emerging from the workshop and usable by others, they hope to expand awareness of the issue in different spheres, such as the parliament and the media.
The project is important for PROTEGE QV because they believe that the internet is a powerful tool for achieving better access to education, to credit, to health, and more generally to information. PROTEGE QV is one of the promoters of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, in which the second key principle relates to “Internet access and affordability”.
The project is also important for the APC network, since APC believes the internet is a global public good and wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world. As stated in the APC Internet Rights Charter, “The internet is a global public space that must be open, affordable and accessible to all.”
EsLaRed: Human rights and internet rights advocacy in Venezuela – Participation of civil society through ICT
This project aims to conduct a situational analysis of the state of human rights and internet rights in Venezuela, based on a diagnosis and analysis of indicators that demonstrate the deterioration of the quality of life and the violation of human rights and internet rights, as well as identify mechanisms that civil society and NGOs have used for the defence of these rights.
This project seeks to join other ongoing initiatives in the country aimed at denouncing at the national and international levels the human rights violations that have been observed in different sectors of the population. These denunciations of continued abuses from the government to the citizens should contribute to ending the breach of constitutionality and ensuring respect for the human rights of Venezuelans.
Human rights and internet rights advocacy are issues of concern to EsLaRed, since the enforcement of these rights creates the conditions for the equitable and sustainable development of a society, where citizens have an adequate standard of living that facilitates access to goods and services, as well as recognition of the rights they are denied. EsLaRed has been contributing to the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) publications for many years and supporting the rights campaigns of others in the country and region.
Bytes for All Bangladesh: An audio-video conversation on health financing models in Bangladesh
Despite the fact that Bangladesh’s constitution recognises health care as one of the basic necessities of life, and that equity in the provision of health care was introduced through the National Health Care Policy 2000, health care costs remain prohibitively expensive. Bytes for All Bangladesh is undertaking a multimedia study to investigate the availability, penetration and challenges of health financing models in Bangladesh. Funds allocated for the health sector are scarce and public funding for health care is decreasing day by day. For example, in Bangladesh the per capita health expenditure increased to USD 27 in 2012 from USD 16 in 2007, but the government’s share has declined to 23% from 27% between the two studies, putting pressure on the population. People cover more than 63% of their total health spending from their own pockets, which is one of the highest rates in the region. Many families are devastated by meeting the expenses of increasing health care costs.
In order to search for a solution, Bytes for All Bangladesh will study existing models for a scalable social health protection scheme and how ICTs are facilitating the development, penetration and verification of these models. For example, the Social Health Protection Act, drafted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, refers to universal health care coverage. The government is undertaking a pilot project that entails distributing SMART cards to the sectors of the population living in extreme poverty to facilitate their access to health care facilities. Several other local initiatives have also sprung up, including one in Benapole and another one in Uzirpur, Barishal, where a local health complex has created a database of poor people, as per Vulnerable Group Feeding programme (VGF) card distribution, and has connected them to a local health card to be used for any health care-related service in the local hospitals and health complex. They are verifying the data using their own encrypted method and are also sending out alerts or notifications of appointments, medical tests, etc., via SMS.
This project will aim to reach out to them and understand what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what success, failures and challenges they have faced so far.