These grants up to USD 5,000 each are for research and campaign activities that are aligned with any of the strategies identified in APC’s Theory of Change. These grants will continue to support local campaigns that contribute to members’ advocacy work and also enable members to participate in APC-wide campaigns. Current projects are being implemented for a period of three to six months, until the end of 2017.
Bytesforall (B4A) Bangladesh: Research and campaign on net neutrality in Bangladesh
The Bangladesh telecom regulatory authority reports that in March 2016, Bangladesh had 61.28 million internet subscribers, which is around 40% of the total population. Meanwhile, according to a Facebook report, Bangladesh has more than 21 million Facebook users, which constitutes 12.7% of the total population. This data is important, because in Bangladesh, common people often consider Facebook synonymous with the Internet. This was visible when the Bangladesh government blocked Facebook for a brief period of time in November 2015 and the data usage in the country dropped by 30%. Facebook, on other hand, has came forward with their Internet.org Free Basics scheme and established a partnership with a number of major mobile phone carriers, creating more dependence on Facebook for internet browsing. All this certainly poses a serious challenge to net neutrality in Bangladesh, where there is no regulation in this regard, and there is a lack of preparedness among civil society to uphold the principle of net neutrality.
Hence there is a research and advocacy gap, and Bytesforall Bangladesh wants to focus on that. This would be a project combining both research and campaign work. Net neutrality can be broadly understood as the principle of non-discrimination which in practice allows the internet to be free and open by preventing service providers from slowing down or interfering with the transfer of data. The debate on network neutrality centres largely around the conflicting private interests of internet service providers and the public interest in a competitive and innovative internet. Governments can also have an interest in regulating certain types of data packets and regulating certain services and defining the permissible interference of service providers.
Bangladesh Friendship Education Society (BFES): Online violence against female journalists in Bangladesh
Technology has brought many developmental changes into our daily lives. Communication, daily work, entertainment, shopping, news, etc. have become easier and thus made our lives more comfortable. But this technology can be a cause of fear for women, especially those who are engaged with public voices. In Bangladesh, female participation in journalism has seen a rise in the last couple of years, especially in electronic media. According to an October 2016 report by senior female journalist Shahnaz Munni of News 24, a private TV channel in Bangladesh, women journalists in Bangladesh’s media industry account for only 5% in print and 25% in electronic media. Thus there is every chance of female journalists facing varieties of online harassment related to their professional activities.
This violence could take the form of unsolicited emails, online messages, odd or embarrassing comments in social media, and more commonly, online threats, generally considered as forms of online harassment. This online violence can have a debilitating impact on the personal life, working life and social behaviour of the person harassed, and can even result in them leaving the profession. In developed countries, there are many reports published and studies have been conducted to find out the type of online harassment that female journalists have to face. But there is as yet no study or report published on online violence against female journalists in Bangladesh. Female journalists are facing online violence in their everyday lives which remains unspoken in our country. Therefore, considering all these circumstances, the Bangladesh Friendship Education Society has taken this initiative to explore what types of violence female journalists are facing in Bangladesh in connection to their professional life. On the basis of their cases and stories, we will develop campaign materials that will offer mitigation strategies against such violence.
Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA): Advocacy for digital rights in Rwanda
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will review the state of human rights in Rwanda in its October-November 2017 session. The aim of this project will be to enable CIPESA to develop digestible products out of the Rwanda report (i.e. a policy brief and an info sheet), make a French language translation of the brief, conduct a Twitter chat with various stakeholders on digital rights in Rwanda, and engage with actors and processes of the ACHPR to raise awareness of digital rights concerns in Rwanda. While the work would focus on advocacy around the Rwanda report, it would also help generate knowledge that will benefit CIPESA’s wider advocacy work on other African countries, notably with African regional human rights mechanisms, while also helping to open the eyes of wider stakeholders, including those involved in the review process, about the need to inculcate digital rights protection, in law and in practice, in the work of the Commission.
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD): Survey of access to internet in public girls' secondary schools in Kano State, Nigeria
In May 2017, the Joint Matriculation Examinations Board, Nigeria’s tertiary education admission examination agency, conducted for the second time its computer-based examinations for admission to tertiary institutions. A national outcry followed the release of the examination results, which saw massive failure, especially among female candidates in the north. One of the reasons implicated in the mass failure was the lack of access to computers and internet facilities in the schools, in spite of the fact that computer studies is a compulsory subject for all students of secondary schools, according to the national education curriculum. Instead, many students were only coming into contact with a computer at the examination halls.
This project will conduct research to establish the extent of access to the internet and computing facilities in girls’ secondary schools in Kano State, the most populous state in the country with a population of 12 million. Like many states in the north, Kano State runs separate schools for males and females at the senior secondary school level, thus allowing the possibility of differential access to the internet and other facilities in the schools along gender lines. The key question is to interrogate the relative access to the internet among girls and boys in secondary schools in the state. The results of the research will then be used to convene a stakeholders meeting to promote greater access to the internet in girls' secondary schools in the state.
Colnodo: TBTT campaigning in Colombia - Safe and active young people promoting a safe internet for women
The aim of this project is to carry out various activities within the framework of the Take Back the Tech (TBTT) campaign that will allow women and young men to be aware about the risks inherent in the use of technology and violence in digital spaces. It seeks to involve young people in actions and in the development of products aimed at promoting safe uses and practices online. The proposed actions are aligned with the theme of the 2017 TBTT campaign so that Colombia can once again join the 16 days of activism to fight violence against women in digital spaces.
This year we are proposing to work with new audiences such as young people who, despite being intensive users of technology, do not necessarily recognise the risks. Research conducted between Colnodo and the Central University has shown that at least half of the youth surveyed are connected to the internet more than 15 hours a day. Despite this intensive use, young people need to know more about the risks of ICT use, the violence that is circulating on the internet, especially against women, and the importance of safe online practices. Among the actions included in this proposal are the design and implementation of a strategy for disseminating messages and resources via social networks; the production and dissemination of a Facebook Live-type online conference with young women survivors of violence on the internet; a competition calling for the submission of digital graphic resources on the topic; and a virtual course aimed at young students, teachers and activists, among others.
EsLaRed: Analysis of policies that threaten access to the internet in Venezuela, resulting from the state of emergency during the period 2016 to 2017
In Venezuela, in recent decades, projects, programmes and policy plans have been developed to ensure equitable, accessible and sustainable access to the internet of the digitally excluded population, considering their geographical location, gender, social status, disabilities or identity. Since mid-2016, the government has implemented a series of economic, social and political measures, resulting from the state of emergency promulgated in Presidential Decree No. 2323. By 2017, the consequences of these measures had become more decisive or determinant, because in May 2017, through Presidential Decree 2849, the state of emergency was extended and new measures were incorporated that could affect the fundamental human rights of citizens. In particular, the right of access to the internet, the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy may be violated because the decree includes, among other things, forming organisational structures that strongly regulate the system of information technology and cyberspace in Venezuela.
In this context, this research aims to analyse the impact of policies implemented by the government in the state of emergency, during the period 2016 to 2017, regarding the risks that exist in the implementation of these policies, which are presumed to limit and condition equitable, accessible and sustainable access to the internet. In this way, it will seek to determine elements that identify contradictions between the principles established in the plans of the nation with respect to the use and development of the internet, and the policies established during the state of emergency; as well as identify new elements of digital exclusion that are emerging in Venezuela, due to the political, economic and social crisis that is currently being experienced. To achieve this objective, an analysis of the current situation of the policies established in the state of emergency regarding internet access will be carried out. At the same time, an analysis of the modalities of repression, discrimination, exclusion and inequality that affect internet access in Venezuela and violate the human rights of citizens will be undertaken. In addition, the impact of emergency measures as a determining factor in the digital exclusion of the population in Venezuela will be analysed.
Fantsuam Foundation: Policy and regulatory challenges for community networks in Nigeria
Until recently, Nigeria had a pool of agencies involved in policy and regulation of ICT development and services. The overlaps and duplication of activities by these agencies has made it challenging for ICT entrepreneurs to be sure of standards and regulations that they need to comply with. There have been efforts to streamline the mandates of the various government agencies, but there are still significant grey areas in the processing of applications and compliance issues for civil society ICT advocates and entrepreneurs. In May 2017, the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology inaugurated a Nigeria National Broadband Council to advise on how best to enhance the penetration, quality and ubiquitous application of broadband in Nigeria. This will be the third effort Nigeria has made for this purpose. The first one, Broadband For Nigeria (BB4NG) was initiated by APC in 2010, followed by an advisory team set up in 2013 by the government. So far, none of these efforts has made any mention of the use of community networks to facilitate development, especially of Nigeria's high rural population.
This project will therefore aim at identifying the specific organs within the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST). Three civil society organisations will be provided with capacity building in the setting up of a community network, and a formal application for approval of the Fantsuam Community Network will be submitted to the regulator. All these efforts will be documented in a manual that sets out the steps that anyone can take to set up a community network successfully in Nigeria, taking into account the regulatory requirements. This will be the first effort to document the processes required for setting up a community network in Nigeria.
7amleh: Mapping threats and violations of Palestinian digital rights
The most basic level of digital rights in any society is directly linked to access to information and knowledge, which are imperative to establishing a fair society and an informed citizenry, constituting some of the key pillars of a democratic society. This project responds to the urgent need for increased awareness and advocacy in order to defend Palestinian digital rights on a local and international level.
Building on previous advocacy efforts, 7amleh aims to conduct and disseminate a research-based policy brief that will map out the predominant and key threats and violations to Palestinian digital rights. The paper will take the form of a policy analysis in order to identify the legal and political threats to digital rights in Palestine as well as to provide policy recommendations and solutions for stakeholders to secure digital rights. This will be compiled by an external researcher who will conduct both primary and secondary research through focus groups, round table discussions, meetings with stakeholders and summarising existing sources, in order to clearly map out the critical risks pertaining to Palestinian digital rights. The research aims to engage and inform local and international stakeholders with Palestinian digital right violations in an attempt to force social media giants, governments and other critical stakeholders to shift policy in the interest of the Palestinian population.
Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD): Muavin launch and dissemination
Media Matters for Democracy implemented a project titled "Countering Abuse: Technology and Awareness for Countering Online Abuse and Harassment" with APC’s support during the previous grants cycle. The project sought to create a digital solution that allowed women and other users to gather a group of allies, who can be allied/mobilised in times of need, particularly in instances of online abuse/harassment aimed towards the user. During the course of the project, MMfD was able to develop the proof of concept of an application called Muavin or Facilitator. In other words, the application’s test version was created and distributed among a small group of test users for feedback.
The application allows users to tag offensive material and ask their group of allies to intervene, so as to push back on the hate narrative and/or report to Facebook. The flagged content can also be submitted to a number of discussion groups where other allies can show support and discuss further strategies for countering the abuse. The intended outcome of the project was to provide women in Pakistan with a tool that enables them to respond better to the abuse they face online and have some support from allies. However, due to time constraints, we could achieve only a part of the output, i.e. the development of the "proof of concept" (of the Muavin application) and of a group of allies who are well initiated with the principles of the feminist internet. While the application's code is ready and the app itself is being tested with an internal group of allies, the key outcome, i.e. the production and launch of Muavin, was delayed, as a result of which the fund lapsed, disabling any further progress on the outputs. This small grant will be used to enable the MMfD team to properly launch and disseminate Muavin for use.
Nodo TAU: Communication workshop for social organisations - Digital skills for human rights in digital environments
This project consists of a capacity-building proposal for social organisations, addressing their realities in the exercise of digital rights, in terms of their actual possibilities, their needs, and the potentialities they are not reaching. We are planning to deliver four modules of workshops in key areas of digital rights in which we believe social organisations need to deepen practices and knowledge. For the implementation of this proposal we are already meeting together with other local organisations and relevant actors from the communication field (continuing with the work initiated in 2016) to design the final proposal, including their perspectives and the definition of a local agenda to continue and strengthen the consolidation of a working group in the internet rights field.
Sulá Batsú: More Central American women in the IT sector
We plan to develop a Central America campaign to promote more women's participation in the IT sector. When we talk about women in the IT sector we are talking about software developers and other related activities (web developers, videogame developers, database administrators, etc.). Women's participation rate in the IT sector is only 20% in the world and less than 12% in Central America. The campaign is oriented to the private IT sector, the educational sector with an emphasis on universities, and Central American women. The campaign will demonstrate the existing stereotypes about the relationship between gender and technology, the opportunities for women to raise their voices through developing digital technologies, the need to solve women's problems in the Central American region with regard to developing digital technologies, the need to reduce gender bias and discrimination bias in algorithms, and the possibility of developing inclusive digital technologies.
This campaign will be developed in September and October 2017 and will be used to convene young women for the First Central American Women's Hackathon organised by Sulá Batsú and its partner at the end of October. This hackathon is related with urban sustainability, intelligent cities and a focus on rural areas. Our campaign will be based three major areas: a) highlighting existing stereotypes of women in IT, b) data and information about the current situation of women in IT, and c) the potential contribution to and transformation of the IT sector through women's participation. We will also share the hackathon results all over Central America. The campaign will be carried out through digital media (websites, social media and online media) and offline media using printed materials like stickers, posters and others all over Central America. We will also work with traditional media. We will support the campaign through our network of organisations based in each country in Central America.