Strategic priorities

For this strategic period between 2020-2023, APC’s focus is to create a just and sustainable world by harnessing the collective power of activists, organisations, excluded groups, communities and social movements, to challenge existing power structures and ensure that the internet is developed and governed as a global public good.

The following outcome areas are our prioritised areas of focus, for the period of the strategic plan, that represent the key achievements required to move closer to realising APC’s vision in consideration of the current and expected context:

Outcome 1: The collective power of communities within and beyond the APC network is harnessed through existing and new relationships built around transformative actions and our shared visions.
Rationale/Definitions

The APC network is the most important resource we have to achieve the transformations we are seeking. We prioritise our network, but recognise that we are part of a collective endeavour in working for transformation. The partnerships and alliances of broader communities that we collaborate with are critical in strengthening the movements that we are part of. These include communities working on environmental justice and sustainability, local access and community networks, sexual rights, digital rights activism, feminist internet, technology and alternative infrastructure, among others. This broader community of networks is a resource that grows in power when we take time to learn from and strengthen each other. We need to sustain the transformations we seek through self and collective care and through a renewed commitment to contributing to social and environmental justice and human rights.  

Impact objectives
  1. Diverse communities and movements are interconnected and mobilised through shared knowledge, platforms and collective action.

  2. APC and its members have the institutional capacity to effectively support collaboration and stimulate engagement among its communities.

Outcome 2: People affected by exclusion, discrimination and inequality are able to meaningfully use and shape the internet and digital technologies to meet their specific needs.
Rationale/Definitions

Digital exclusion relates to structural socioeconomic barriers and to the individual and collective access and capabilities of people to benefit from the use of the internet and digital technologies to improve their lives. Current economic and regulatory models are exacerbating inequalities, poverty and discrimination and amplifying unequal power relations in different ways. It is necessary to broaden the focus beyond access to connectivity infrastructure and enable conditions (political, regulatory, technical, technological, financial) to increase overall individual and collective autonomy, agency and choice in how people connect to digital technology and spaces, as well as how they use, shape, inform or create them once they are connected. 

Alternative and complementary approaches, frameworks and solutions are needed to bring about changes in affordable service provision, technical and human capacity to deploy and manage locally owned networks, and the ability to develop and use applications and content effectively. Holistic interventions are needed to mitigate political, economic, social and cultural barriers that prevent people from fully benefiting from the digital society and economy. This includes access to open digital technology and spaces free of censorship, surveillance, harassment and any other forms of violation of human rights. 

APC's strategies build evidence for policy and regulatory change and increase understanding and support by community groups (women in particular), development organisations, civil society, media and the private sector regarding the potential of small-scale local initiatives in meeting the information and communication needs of the unconnected or the barely connected. APC also works to convince policy makers and regulators to enable public access, infrastructure sharing, better use of radio spectrum and open telecom data, and to limit concentration of ownership by a few global companies. 

Impact objectives
  1. Free, open and sustainable digital technologies and platforms are developed, shaped and used to address digital exclusion.

  2. Inclusive, fair and just economic models aimed towards digital inclusion are recognised, enabled and adopted as viable sustainable solutions for universal, affordable access and services.

  3. Individuals and groups, in particular women, who champion digital inclusion have increased capacity and resources to create and meet the demand for alternative models.

Outcome 3: Women and people of diverse sexualities and genders participate in, shape and co-create the internet and digital technologies that reflect and respond to their lived realities.
Rationale/Definitions

Women and people of diverse sexualities and genders experience the backlash against gains made towards gender equality most acutely. Threats to feminist organising online and offline are expanding and taking new forms, enabling violations by a range of actors, including states, fundamentalist religious structures and private corporations, who increasingly find common purpose in narrowing notions of morality, family and “equality”. These threats often manifest as targeted gender-based violence (GBV) online, intimately linked to offline spaces, and the twin roles of censorship and gendered surveillance that facilitate this violence. 

Alongside this, increased data gathering and datafication impact unevenly on the autonomy, privacy and livelihoods of women and people of diverse sexualities and genders. Stereotypes linked to gender, race, caste and ability are embedded into technology and data-dependent processes and algorithms. This data is used in profiling by companies and governments, raising questions of privacy and decreased autonomy, especially for those marginalised on account of sexuality, gender or other categories. Also troubling is that even as forms of labour and work change in the digital age, work that is gendered or feminised continues to be devalued.

The collaboratively developed Feminist Principles of the Internet (FPIs) is the framework that underpins APC’s work on feminism, women’s rights, sexuality and technology. The feminist internet we work towards is one in which women and people and diverse sexualities and genders are able to access and enjoy a free and open internet to exercise agency and autonomy, build collective power, strengthen movements, and transform power relations for gender and sexual justice. To achieve this, we must interrogate how the systems of oppression such as sexism, racism, casteism, ableism and compulsory heterosexuality intersect and impact people.

Impact objectives
  1. Ideas, skills, processes and spaces for collective organising and strategising towards a feminist and sustainable internet are created and nurtured.

  2. Internet policy discussions and decision making integrate and reflect the perspectives of women and people of diverse sexualities and genders.

  3. Increased financial resources and diversity of actors for a feminist internet, including those working on feminist technology development.

Outcome 4: People, especially those facing discrimination and oppression, have greater power and autonomy through digital technologies to exercise their full range of human rights online and offline.
Rationale/Definitions

Human rights are integral to the realisation of human autonomy and to advancing social justice. Digital technologies and spaces have impacted the way we experience our rights online and offline. On the one hand, digital technologies and spaces have been instrumental in mobilisation and advocacy, while on the other hand, they have paved the way for new forms of violations that have far-reaching consequences. As digital technologies become more widespread and pervasively deployed in society, they impact a wide range of rights, from the freedoms of expression, assembly and association and privacy to economic, social and cultural rights, like the right to work, education and culture. As digital divides widen, people are reliant on digital technologies to participate in democratic processes and to access public services. The digitisation of people’s lives, combined with the exploitation of people’s data, presents profound risks to people’s rights, including their right to be free from discrimination. 

Human rights need to be at the centre of the development, deployment, utilisation and regulation of the internet and digital technologies. The focus for this strategic plan is to ensure that people are able to exercise their rights, which includes advancing human rights norms and their implementation towards holding states accountable for new and emerging forms of rights violations. Recognising that the landscape of human rights protection and promotion has changed and that the private sector mediates many of our rights, we will increase our advocacy aimed at challenging the private sector and holding companies accountable.

Impact objectives
  1. People and civil society organisations hold states and the private sector accountable for violations.

  2. Norms, standards and regulations relating to the internet, digital technologies and spaces advance human rights online and offline.

  3. Governments promote, protect and respect human rights and comply with their obligations – including addressing violations by private actors.

Outcome 5: The internet is recognised and governed as a global public good in an inclusive, transparent, democratic and accountable manner.
Rationale/Definitions

The publicness of the internet is at the core of power disputes in the internet governance ecosystem. The rise and consolidation of global internet platforms and the trend of states controlling the digital space in authoritarian ways have led to erosion of the publicness of the internet and the global digital commons. Internet business models, private sector monopolies and the sophisticated ways in which the internet and digital technologies are being developed for profit are contrary to the public interest, equitable economic development and the exercise of human rights. 

The private power over the public domain by global internet companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter that rely on collecting and profiting from personal data have given rise to surveillance capitalism. Big technology platforms have become governance institutions often floundering in developing and implementing content policies and community standards that adhere to human rights norms and standards of transparency and accountability. At the same time, states’ attempts to police digital spaces are leading to securitisation of internet policy.

There is a need for continued engagement in internet governance processes to challenge corporate power and emphasise governments’ responsibility to hold private corporations accountable. The views, voices and interests of people confronting structural discrimination and oppression are needed to push back against corporate power and state control and challenge the securitisation of the internet. However, effective engagement in internet governance and internet policy processes and spaces nationally, regionally and globally is becoming either too onerous or restricted for civil society actors, and at the same time, multistakeholder processes and forums are losing support and traction. There is an urgent need to advocate more strongly for inclusive, transparent, accessible and accountable internet governance processes and mechanisms, and for recognition of the value of civil society voices in shaping national, regional and global internet governance conversations and policy responses.

Impact objectives
  1. Individuals and civil society organisations engage meaningfully in and influence policy, regulation and governance processes to shape an open and sustainable internet.

  2. Internet policy and regulation actors and institutions recognise and govern the internet as a global public good.

  3. Internet and other digital technology companies are held accountable for upholding human rights and protecting the public interest.

Outcome 6: APC’s collective action and activism contribute to environmental justice and preservation of the earth, and mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the internet, digital technologies and the digital economy.
Rationale/Definitions

APC's roots are anchored in the environmental movements of the 1980s and 1990s, and many members have called for a strong network response to the global environmental crisis. These movements will regain prominence during the next decade as it becomes increasingly clear that governments and international institutions are unlikely to take action in time to avert a climate catastrophe. Governments and the powerful private interests that profit from activities that cause environmental damage are likely to respond through increasing internet surveillance, censorship and propaganda, both directly as well as through cooperation with the few companies who today handle the majority of internet communications. 

The production and use of digital technologies are likely to continue contributing to climate change proportionate to their increasing share in overall consumption of raw materials (including conflict minerals), manufacturing, energy consumption and waste disposal and recycling. The choice and use of digital technologies and the policies guiding their production, use and disposal and the recovery of raw materials will have a huge impact on the way they contribute to the climate catastrophe, but also on their potential to mitigate it. The environmental crisis requires a drastic change from the existing design/production/use/disposal/recycling model to one that embraces a circular economy aiming to eliminate waste and foster the continual reuse of resources. 

A critical assessment is needed of the impacts of the so-called digital/smart economy on communities' sustainable livelihoods. The vision of this economy supports the globally unsustainable model of unlimited growth, by creating the expectation that "smart" innovations will somehow make it possible for humanity to keep exploiting the earth's limited resources. The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can provide a comprehensive and legitimate framework for assessing how the internet, digital technology and the digital economy are contributing to the global environmental crisis, and in what ways they can be used to mitigate the damage to the environment.

APC is well positioned to connect academic and activist knowledge about how to use the internet and digital technologies to adapt to and combat climate change. Building on our history of emerging from green movements, and our ongoing connections with them, APC has decades-long experience with a hands-on approach to technology and its use in ways that are sustainable and promote social and environmental justice and human rights.

Impact objectives
  1. The APC network’s capacity to take action against the climate crisis in solidarity with the broader environmental movement is strengthened.

  2. Practices, models and systems that are environmentally and socially sustainable are promoted, developed and adopted by the APC network.

  3. Policy and regulatory frameworks ensure that the environmental impact of digital technologies – from production and development to disposal of the devices used to run and interact with them – is measured, understood and mitigated.

 

Read APC's 2020-2023 strategic plan in full here.

Read APC's strategic priorities for the period 2016 - 2019 hereAPC's Theory of Change for the same period is available here [in HTML] and here [in .png format].

Read APC’s strategic priorities for the period 2013 - 2016 here

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