Research and campaign grants in 2019

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 2019. 

This is the list of projects implemented in 2019:

Summaries of selected research and campaign grants (2019)
7amleh: Access Denied – E-Commerce Palestine

Over the course of the project implementation period, 7amleh developed the evidence-based research report “Access Denied - E-Commerce Palestine”, which investigates the experience of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza trying to access the digital market. The research is based on interviews conducted with e-commerce entrepreneurs and digital economy experts. The report looks at the digital economy and e-commerce regionally and globally including business-to-business transactions and business-to-consumer transactions. It summarises the global challenges to e-commerce including import and export logistics challenges, tariffs and taxation. Specifically, it analyses the processes that Palestinians go through when buying and selling online and trying to access different e-commerce platforms and investigates different factors related to the readiness of the public and Palestinian institutions for e-commerce. Even though Palestinians and institutions are ready to engage with e-commerce, this report shows there is a lack of enabling environment for digital development and e-commerce. 7amleh poses recommendations to governments, businesses and local and international stakeholders on digital access, financial access, integrated logistics and policies. 

Palestinians live in one of the harshest surveillance contexts in the world, but the details of the digital occupation are still unclear to the local and international public. Palestinians continue to be denied fair and equal access to the digital economy and are being discriminated against by states and businesses when it comes to accessing essential online platforms like Paypal and Amazon. Often in the case of people facing occupation, colonisation and imperialism, the discrimination tends to be harsher. It is very important for people to check the access of their community to different digital platforms and campaign for access to these platforms to be a part of their access to human rights. 

AlterMundi: Communities creating the internet: The QuintanaLibre experience

AlterMundi, in conjunction with the community of Quintana, created a documentary on the process of creating a community network using the LibreRouter. This documentary has become an invaluable tool with which to explain the finer details of the process of deploying a community network. AlterMundi hopes to be able to fund the remaining parts of this series in 2020. The documentary has received positive feedback and has started countless of conversations at each premiere event, providing the opportunity for Quintana members to share their experience. AlterMundi considers the process a success, given the interest of viewers in potentially starting their own network after watching the documentary. Lots of positive networking occurred as a result of the documentary’s premiere. 

AlterMundi collectively decided to seek for funds to extend this work and create a series of more chapters narrating different aspects of its work and the people it has helped connect via a community network. AlterMundi hopes to be able to get the funds needed to produce more content in 2020, and to be able to maximise the impact this material has on potential new community networks. This documentary was a well-deserved recognition for the QuintanaLibre network and the people involved in it, as they finally had the chance to tell their stories.

Bytes for All: Internet rights in Bangladesh in the context of cyberbullying, online harassment, violence, threats and intimidation

The purpose of Bytes for All’s campaign is to make users aware of safe internet practices and their own internet rights. Flyers were distributed through various institutions and presented at round tables in Bangladesh, where future avenues for policy intervention were discussed. Part of the campaign included talking to female users who are often victims of online gender-based violence (GBV) but are not sure how to address the situation. The flyers focused on the different manifestations of online GBV, safe digital practices, and legal remedies to various possible situations. Bytes for All is concerned that the number of silent victims is very high in Bangladesh, and wants to provide support and resources for victims. Policy intervention is a long-term issue and may not happen within the time frame of a project cycle, so this will be an ongoing issue.

CIPESA: Amplifying feminist voices at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) 2019

The project contributed to CIPESA’s mission of having a greater range of African stakeholders discussing and contributing to the issues of a feminist internet, issues regarding feminist movements, and online political activism in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to face inequalities which reflect the disparities present in basic access to education and finance, among other rights. These are compounded by the overt sexualisation of girls and women in media and popular culture, the exclusion of women from positions of power in numerous fields including in politics and business through to policy making and technology development. At FIFAfrica 2019, CIPESA brought feminist voices from around Africa to do a plenary session. Access to the internet has connected young Africans in ways that were not possible before, and on these platforms, Africans have been able to challenge long-held notions of what should and should not be. It is no surprise that African young women are using these platforms to exert pressure on societies where they were often preferably unheard. The current pan-African feminism movement is thriving on access to technologies that earlier generations did not have, to advance women's right to self-expression in many new ways. This session brought experiences and lessons across the continent to look into how feminist movements are being defined and the online backlash that many young women have to face in order to make themselves heard. 

The collaboration with AfricanFeminism.com and APC brought to FIFAfrica 2019 voices that are usually on the margins to human rights and internet freedom debates. In turn, this helped amplify the message of a feminist internet to a diverse audience of actors in the internet rights domain from around Africa and beyond and also elicit solutions on how more women, including feminists, can more securely participate online.

CITAD: Assessing the facilities, initiatives and policies for the digital inclusion of people with disabilities in higher institutions of learning

The project has raised awareness about the digital needs of people living with disabilities among management and staff of institutions of higher learning, among students with special needs, within the wider community of people with disabilities and their associations as well as some government agencies. Some institutions have started to take action, while a major federal ICT agency has proposed to establish an ICT Centre for People with Disability in Kano. The project has also initiated a campaign on the digital inclusion of people living with disabilities and has provided credible information to support evidence-based advocacy.

One class of people that is often overlooked in terms of making provisions for them to access and use ICTs and in terms of how they actually use them for academic purposes are people living with disabilities. There are over 20 million people living with different types of disabilities in Nigeria. Digital migration of education services is threatening to leave them behind. This is because proficiency in the use of the internet is critical to accessing educational opportunities. In particular, since the implementation of computer-based examinations, which is prerequisite for admission to higher education, many people living with disabilities, especially those with hearing and vision impairments, are facing challenges, as there are limited spaces for them to learn and use computers and the internet. Even when they gain admission, many of the institutions of higher learning do not have disability-ICT-compliant facilities.

Colnodo: Strengthening linguistic diversity through the use of the En Mi Idioma platform

Colnodo is strengthening linguistic diversity by encouraging the use of the “En Mi Idioma” platform. The platform features 118 lessons in seven different indigenous languages. The project began in 2006 and Colnodo has been transferring the courses online to make them more accessible. The goal is to encourage young people who are a part of these communities to learn their languages to preserve and promote the dissemination of indigenous languages. The transfer includes new features such as self-registration, moderation by community leaders, and access support for those using older devices and browsers. 

Derechos Digitales: Towards a human rights approach to facial recognition: A web project

Derechos Digitales aims to develop a narrative of human rights as a fundamental part of the discussion on the implementation of biometric technologies, especially facial recognition. The project website (https://reconocimientofacial.info) has been rebuilt to provide a cohesive human rights narrative around facial recognition system implementation in Latin America. The website explains in a straightforward and accessible way the different problems presented by facial recognition in the region, especially when it’s done in an opaque way. It has been redesigned to host different types of content useful to advocate for a human rights perspective for facial recognition implementation. The idea is to present meaningful information that could be used by different types of users interested in this issue: activists, journalists and decision makers. 

Derechos Digitales recognises that the implementation of facial recognition technologies as surveillance tools is going to be one of the most important issues for us for the next few years and that was the main motivation behind this project. In that sense, the reconocimientofacial.info website is meant to become a central part of their strategy for challenging the use of surveillance technologies and highlighting the need to develop regional standards to control their use, considering this is a problem that will continue to affect different countries and it is key to share updated information on what is going on. They plan to continue the other different activities involved in keeping the site updated by producing different types of content related to facial recognition with a human rights perspective, compiling and archiving the content available related to facial recognition, and highlighting local efforts related to facial recognition challenging. 

Digital Empowerment Foundation: Barefoot Wireless Women – Connecting the Unconnected

The purpose of the DEF’s campaign is to provide access to information and knowledge to educate girls and women about their fundamental rights and motivate them to use the internet as a tool for development. “Barefoot Wireless Women” learned digital literacy, and now they are serving their communities by connecting their villages to the internet and making it possible for more girls and women to become independent.

However, India is still a very patriarchal society and there is immense struggle for girls and women in marginalised communities to get access to digital technologies. In many communities, the men have to migrate to other parts of the country for work while the women usually stay behind. As a result, when it comes to technology-based solutions for rural access to under-served communities, women are often in the best position to be in charge of the community access points and the computers. They can be keepers of the information, and having that role gives them more leverage to make decisions in their households and communities. Therefore, empowering more and more women from marginalised communities through internet access is key to the success of our community networks initiative, which has the potential of becoming a prototype or a scalable model for connectivity all over the world. 

EsLaRed: Campaign for the awareness and orientation of violence against women in the State of Mérida, Venezuela, through digital technologies

The general objective of EsLaRed’s communication campaign is to raise awareness about the theme of violence against women (VAW) and to promote the existence of institutional mechanisms, as well as technological platforms, which can be used by women and advocates to manage issues related to VAW. Violence against women occurs in different scenarios, where many factors intervene, resulting in the need to systematise and facilitate the routes of actions, advice, care and support procedures for women who face situations of violence. In turn, in Mérida, women who are survivors of violence have a number of public institutions and non-governmental organisations that provide attention and support in the defence of their rights. However, access and management of this information is limited or obsolete, so it is necessary to look for mass communication mechanisms, based on social digital technologies, which will allow a better interconnection between institutions and people.

Jinbonet: Campaign to reform the “Protection of Communications Secrets Act”

Jinbonet’s goal of properly revising the “Protection of Communications Secrets Act” was achieved only partially. In the end, two revisions of the act were passed in the National Assembly. The passed revisions were improvements on the existing law to some extent, but far short of what civil society demanded.

In 2018, there was a remarkable ruling on the protection of communications secrets in South Korea. The Constitutional Court ruled that telecommunications investigative techniques such as packet wiretapping (internet wiretapping), base station investigation and real-time location tracking were unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court saw that there were no proper safeguards to control the abuse of authority by intelligence and investigative agencies, and demanded that the Protection of Communications Secrets Act be amended by 31 March 2020. After the Constitutional Court's decision in 2018, civil society organisations held discussions for months to come up with a civil society position on the revision of the act, and finally created an alternative bill of civil society. However, the National Assembly passed a revision to the Protection of Communications Secrets Act that turned a blind eye to the demands of civil society and only partially improved the original legislation. The first revision, dealing with base station investigation and real-time location tracking, was passed on 30 December 2019, and the second, dealing with internet wiretapping, was passed on 5 March 2020.

The general requirements for the provision of communication confirmation data have not been improved. In case of real-time location tracking and base station investigations, supplementary requirements have been added, but even these requirements are not applied to “crimes that use telecommunications as a means”. Given that more and more crimes are using telecommunications as a means, this exception would make strengthening of requirements meaningless. Although the Act has been improved to some extent, it has fallen far short of what civil society has demanded. Civil society organisations in South Korea will continue to make efforts to improve the Protection of Communications Secrets Act.

Media Matters for Democracy: Hostile Bytes - A study of online violence against women journalists

This research aims to document the online violence directed at women journalists, especially for their views and journalistic work. The report’s findings were based on qualitative along with quantitative data. For this report, MMfD surveyed over 100 women journalists in Pakistan to generate evidence to support its thesis that women journalists are being targeted in an organised manner to suppress information through systematic hate and incitement campaigns online, and it has a chilling effect on them and their peers. The report was successful in drawing a picture of the kinds and degrees of digital violence that women journalists face in Pakistan. It also illustrated the impact this leaves on the mental health of the women journalists, and long-term repercussions, along with its implications on their work and personal lives. This was evident through the media coverage that the report garnered. 

Media Matters for Democracy has been documenting violence and crimes against journalists for over five years now and has generated substantial evidence for its advocacy. However, the dynamics of crimes and violence against journalists, especially women, have changed substantially in the recent past. The internet is now used as the main tool to suppress information and target those who choose to speak online. This is especially true for women journalists, and MMfD has seen a substantial increase in the hate campaigns targeting women in media. Therefore, MMfD’s plans for further activities in the area of countering gender-based violence against women journalists will not be restricted to this project; in fact, it is an ongoing effort of the organisation. MMfD hopes that with this report and its findings, the work around online violence against women journalists will only go upwards, addressing their experiences, documenting them and demanding action from media outlets and authorities. This research will help other organisations to conduct studies beyond what is already documented in this one.

Open Culture Foundation: Data access for environmental advocacy: Feature reporting on Taiwan’s open data regime

Taiwan has had the top place on the Global Open Data Index for several years and OCF wants to make this a reality in practice. The purpose of OCF’s initiative is to explain Taiwan’s open data utilisation practices and use this for environmental advocacy. Taiwan has an exceptional Global Open Data Index rating, but civil society organisations do not seem to view it so favourably. As such, OCF hopes to highlight possible key points for an effective open data regime that can be used as a reference for future efforts by international communities. The goal was to initiate conversations with Taiwan’s executive branch on open data regime and technical configurations. Some government information is not available; when citizens have tried to request data that is beneficial to the public, the application process to access the data is not transparent, and the requests may be intentionally or unintentionally ignored by government departments. The government departments can easily refuse to open particular files according to the “Freedom of Government Information Law”, which is obstructive and not necessarily accurate.

This project shows through case analysis that there are deficiencies in the open data policy and acquisitions and this needs to be adjusted. OCF is proud of its research on data and the environment and hopes it will bring a new vision to traditional media.

Pangea: “Too much patriarchal technocapitalism will kill you”

Pangea has been promoting debate around technocapitalist patriarchal ideas through social networks, a new newsletter, blog articles, videos and press media (Xarxanet). It has also translated and published the Feminist Principles of the Internet in Catalan as well as written, edited, formatted, translated (Spanish/Catalan), tested and published three instructional guides on open software tools: Nextcloud, Mailtrain and Webalizer (this last, adapted from the English version). Additionally, Pangea has written and promoted content that shares a critical perspective on social networks around the mirage of the cloud (“someone’s computer”), tech evolution (natural resources depletion, labour exploitation, waste generation), digital surveillance and control (massive data extraction). The project has been important for connecting with new audiences and network partners. Pangea is not just trying to educate its audience on feminist perspectives and open source software, but is also generating open knowledge through open documentation and instructional guides, in both Catalan and Spanish.

PROTEGE QV: Organising impact talks on the theme “What are my rights on internet?”

The purpose of this project was to create awareness of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms and particularly on internet rights of users in Cameroon. A survey that PROTEGE-QV carried out as part of the project titled “Watching Cameroon through the lenses of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms” in 2017-2018 showed that internet users in Cameroon have a very poor level of awareness regarding their online rights. This project was meant to tackle the issue and to increase the awareness level of Cameroonians online. This time, some 80 participants met up to take part in the second event organised by PROTEGE QV.

The level of public awareness about their rights as internet users is quite low, as reflected through the survey carried out in 2018. Therefore, the impact talks have provided them with useful tools to fill their information gaps. The community is also aware of the existence of a critical tool, the African Declaration, to promote and defend their online rights. The community was taught how to make efficient use of their smartphones, and also learned about some serious online threats and how to deal with them.

Also noted was the interest shown by the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms who participated in all three of the impact talks. They recognised that they had not yet considered the issue of human rights on the internet in their work and strongly suggested the affiliation of PROTEGE QV to the Commission.

Unwanted Witness: Defending fundamental human rights in the era of digital identity in Uganda

The purpose of this project was to bring to light the impact of the digital ID system and related policies on the enjoyment of economic social and cultural rights and subsequent ramifications on the government’s progressive realisation of its obligations. Unwanted Witness is particularly proud of its report, speaking to the core of human dignity and breaking the silence of human rights violations shrouded within the implementation of the digital ID system. The Ugandan government began implementing the system five years ago, and since then, the system has since collected biometrics and bio-data for millions of Ugandans, allocating each citizen a unique National Identification Number. Implementation of the ID system preceded the passage of the country’s Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019, which is silent on biometrics use, yet implementation of the law remains an ongoing challenge. The ID system in Uganda is perhaps the largest single database connecting citizens to several vital services including communication or SIM card acquisition, health care, education, financial services, employment in public service, and immigration, among others. While this is becoming a common practice countrywide, there was lack of data and a collective voice as a basis for public debate and inclusivity. Unwanted Witness’s report, titled “Uganda’s Digital ID System: A cocktail of discrimination”, is the first independent audit into the country’s ID system that has an impact on citizens’ rights.

 

 

Many of these grants are made possible with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). 

 

 

 

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