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30 August 2010 | Updated on 29 September 2023

Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) is an annual report co-produced by the APC network and partners, which looks at the progress being made in creating an inclusive information society worldwide (particularly in implementing World Summit on the Information Society or WSIS goals), encourages critical debate, and strengthens networking and advocacy for a just, inclusive information society.

The country reports are easy to read and offer a quick insight into a country situation. Contributors are primarily from civil society organisations active in ICT issues in their countries, and for many, when the publication was first launched in 2007, it was the first time they had put their analysis of the state of ICT in their countries on paper.

Since 2007, GISWatch has covered citizen participation in ICT policy processes, access to ICT infrastructure and access to information and knowledge. That the same authors are writing about these issues from a country perspective suggests that their understanding of a broad ICT policy environment should grow over time as they grapple with what, for some, may be new topics. And as their understanding grows, so will their confidence and ability to engage in related policy and advocacy processes. For APC, this is the real capacity-building value of GISWatch.

“The fact that GISWatch is being used in universities is encouraging, as universities are highly influential places when it comes to ICT policy. For contributors to have a voice in this space is important,” commented GISWatch editor Alan Finlay.

Country reports cover places as diverse as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Switzerland and are contextualised by regional overviews (North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the former Soviet Union, South-East Asia and the Pacific).

I am using GISWatch in a course I am convening on development communications at Wits University. (Alan Finlay)

Download GISWatch editions 2007-2020:

GISWatch 2020 seeks to understand the constructive and destructive roles that technology can play in confronting the climate crises. It disrupts the normative understanding of technology being an easy panacea to the planet’s environmental challenges and suggests that a nuanced and contextual use of technology is necessary for real sustainability to be achieved.

GISWatch 2019 looks at the intersection between artificial intelligence (AI) and human rights, social justice and development. While pointing to the positive use of AI to enable rights in ways that were not easily possible before, this edition of GISWatch highlights the real threats that we need to pay attention to if we are going to build an AI-embedded future that enables human dignity.

GISWatch 2018 focuses on local access models, specifically, community networks as self-organised, self-managed or locally developed solutions for local access, based on the conviction that one of the keys to affordable access is giving local people the skills and tools to solve their own connectivity challenges. It comprises 43 country reports and eight thematic reports.

GISWatch 2017 focuses on National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs), now widely recognised as a vital element of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process with a total of 54 reports, including 40 country reports, seven regional reports, and seven thematic reports. A special edition of GISWatch was published as a companion edition to the 2017 GISWatch annual report, called “Internet governance from the edges – NRIs in their own words”.

Another 2017 special edition brought together analysis on the criminalisation of online expression from six Asian states: Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand. 

GISWatch 2016 illustrates the link between the internet and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) with 47 country reports and 10 thematic reports.

GISWatch 2015 presents stories from around the world on how the politics of sex and sexual rights activism take place online, with 57 country reports and eight thematic reports.

GISWatch 2014 tracks the state of communications surveillance around the world with 57 country reports and eight thematic reports.

GISWatch 2013 explores women’s rights and gender through the lens of information and communications technologies with 46 country reports and several thematic reports on issues such as access to infrastructure, participation, online disobedience, and sexuality online.

GISWatch 2012 focuses on internet and corruption online with 49 country reports and eight thematic reports, including one institutional review and one mapping report.

GISWatch 2011 focuses on internet rights as human rights with 55 country reports and 10 thematic reports. Some reports are also available in Spanish.

GISWatch 2010 addresses ICTs and environmental sustainability with 53 country reports and six regional overviews.

GISWatch 2009 reports on access to online information and knowledge – advancing human rights and democracy, with 48 country reports and seven regional overviews. Also in French and Spanish.

GISWatch 2008 tracks access to ICT infrastructure with 38 country reports and six regional overviews. Also in French.

GISWatch 2007 explores citizen participation in ICT policy processes with 26 country reports.


You can also find all the reports online on the Global Information Society Watch website including translations into a number of languages.

Read more about GISWatch and find out how you can participate in the next edition.

Are you involved in media or journalism? Have a look at the GISWatch Press Kit