STOCKHOLM – Democratic space online is shrinking. This is the theme of this year's Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) taking place between 16 and 17 May, where the APC community is participating to highlight strategies to promote meaningful internet access and decrease the digital divide.
Repressive measures have increased against civil society, journalists and other actors of change. At the same time, the new digital landscape has made it easier to organise and find previously inaccessible information, which is especially vital for discriminated and marginalised groups. SIF 2019 will gather more 500 participants from more than 100 countries to address the most recent threats and the responses needed to mobilise openness in this context.
A key goal of the APC community’s participation at the Forum this year is to highlight strategies to promote meaningful internet access and decrease the digital divide, which we continue to do through our activities and projects, including our latest community networks project.
“There is significant evidence that the models that have made it possible to reach 50% of the people on the planet won't be the ones connecting the other 50%,” APC's local access policy and regulation coordinator Carlos Rey-Moreno explained. “Supporting and enabling alternative models such as community networks is a good strategy to provide affordable access to those who still don't have it.”
In the words of Lilian Chamorro from APC member organisation Colnodo, which has implemented a community wireless network to provide information and communications technology services in rural areas of Colombia, it is key to have different actors work together.
“We work with civil society, rural communities (campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities), academia, government and the private sector with one clear goal: to build an ecosystem that we hope will promote the creation and growth of community networks in our country and help close the digital divide.”
APC will also be co-hosting a panel session on online gender-based violence (GBV), an issue that the APC community has worked to make more visible for over a decade. Although online GBV has gained widespread international recognition in recent years, the shrinking democratic space both offline and online has worsened the situation for women and other communities at risk, and in particular for women human rights defenders. This panel recognises a shifting terrain which requires agility in reflection and strategies for the future.
For a list of sessions that APC staff and members are organising or leading, see our piece on APC at the Stockholm Internet Festival.
The Festival can be followed remotely through the #SIF19 hashtag and by following @fxinternet. At APC, we'll be sharing live updates on @apc_news and @genderITorg.