Research and campaign grants in 2018

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 2018. 

7amleh: Combating Facebook's Censorship of Palestine

Palestinians are increasingly capitalizing on social media platforms, which have become a new arena for political confrontation as well as a place to discuss internal issues within the Palestinian community. While these platforms have the power and influence to shape public opinion and inform government policy, their policies are often far from neutral. Facebook in particular has become an extension of the powerful Israeli government through a blanket censorship scheme of Palestinian content to suppress legitimate speech and undermine activism. In light of this heightened global surveillance, censorship and threats to freedom of expression, access to online resources is all the more crucial in the Palestinian context where infringements on the right to movement have led to geographical fragmentation, rendering the Palestinian community disconnected and divided. The proposed intervention will build on 7amleh’s lobbying and advocacy strategy for social media giants, which aims to pressurize key stakeholders and advocate for policy shift in the interest of the Palestinian population. 7amleh is currently conducting a policy paper on Facebook’s role in silencing Palestinian voices and the proposed social media campaign will highlight the main findings, such as Facebook’s historical and current relationship with the Israeli government, methods used by the Israeli government to coerce Facebook into compliance, legislations and regulations that are enforced on Facebook, and the impact on Palestinian free speech. The campaign will also include a call to action through mobilizing Palestinian civil society in order to directly target Facebook policy representatives.

 

BlueLink: Free Speech v. Hate Speech: Online security for Environmental, gender and human rights activists in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, activists, CSOs and citizens supporting human, gender or environmental rights, are experiencing increasing pressure online. Rooted in mainstream political and media communication, hate speech against civil society has become normalized and is being trivialized across internet communication and social networks, weakening the actions of authorities, undermining policy responses and creating a sense of impunity for perpetrators. To counter this, BlueLink plans to run a campaign that will inform and empower activists and their organisations by increasing understanding of the forms and mechanisms of online pressure that they are subjected to, equip them with skills and know-how for coordinated action against it, and raise their – and the general public’s awareness – on the manipulations and hate speech against civil society, the purpose and identity of their perpetrators. As part of the campaign, BlueLink will research the roots, mechanisms, channels and perpetrators of online hate speech against civil society, fostering ideas for joint actions to tackle it and develop online platforms safe and sustainable places for activists. They will further conduct a capacity building workshop where civil society representatives and experts exchange knowledge and strategies for confronting online hate speech and publish journalistic investigation and reporting on the issues of online hate speech, violence and pressure against civil society voices, using BlueLink’s pioneering virtual newsroom to improve the understanding and skills of young and active journalists of these problems and their consequences.

BFES: Bangladesh e-Health Data Privacy Policy Advocacy

Under a 2016 grant support, BFES conducted a baseline study on e-Health Data Privacy protection policy. BFES now has taken this initiative further to advocate for a law-based expert consultation. This grant will be used to conduct a national consultation and produce results that will be presented to the Law Ministry to develop/endorse a specific policy in Bangladesh.

CIPESA: Securing Online Rights through the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms’ Network

The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms was launched in 2014 as a pan-African initiative to promote human rights online in Africa. At present, a coalition of 23 organisations and multiple individuals are using the Declaration to promote and apply human rights standards and principles of openness in internet policy in their national contexts. These organisations include several members of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) network. It remains essential, however, to promote awareness of the principles of the Declaration and how civil society actors can use the Declaration to guide their awareness raising and advocacy for internet rights, with national authorities as well as regional bodies such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). Accordingly, this project aims to convene African Declaration network members that work on digital rights to share experiences on how they have used the Declaration for their research and advocacy work, and to then discuss ways in which there can be increased knowledge sharing among organisations that utilise the Declaration. The session, which will be held as part of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) taking place in Accra, Ghana, shall also discuss the need to develop country- and sub-region-specific materials that can strategically communicate the relevance and utility of the Declaration in influencing internet regulation and policy-making processes, and in and responding to internet-related human rights violations.

CITAD: Mobilizing Women Voices for Effective Participation in Policy Discourse on Internet in Nigeria

Representation of women, and participation by women in sub-national, national, regional and global internet governance forums have been very poor in Nigeria and voices of women at internet policy spaces in the country have been mute. As a result, issues relating to gender have not been receiving the attention they deserved, such as gender-based violence online or factors that are hindering the effective access to and use of the internet by women. The gender based digital divide is wide, especially in the northern parts of the country. This project aims at mobilizing women to participate in internet policy making forums nationally and make their voices more visible as well as enhance their participation at regional and global fora through organizing a Women IGF with the intended output of drafting a national digital gender inclusion agenda. This agenda would be an important tool to conduct advocacy around key federal agencies that have responsibility of promoting ICT in the country, to promote discussion around the need for a national digital gender inclusion agenda and to multiply women’s voices in speaking about an internet that has women at its heart.

CódigoSur: Bodies, genders and identities on the internet - Printed edition of Pillku magazine

Pillku, a magazine published by CódigoSur since 2011, has been recognised for its collaborative work on free and common culture, its feminist and anti-patriarchal approach, and its focus on human rights. While the magazine’s content has so far been digital and far-reaching as a result, CódigoSur recognises that the impact of accessing printed materials is highly valued and in fact necessary to occupy spaces in the battle of ideas. As part of this grant, Pillku will for the first time have a printed edition, allowing for deeper debates about free and common culture and social movements in Latin America, and more particularly in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. This edition of Pillku will focus on bodies, gender and identities on the internet, reflecting on policies that are often patriarchal, racist and homophobic and opening up debates on the moral codes that impose single models of being male and female, while discriminating against and excluding diversity, which negatively impacts the LGBTI community. The magazines will be distributed to organisations across Central America and will be supported by workshops for the LGBTI community and the general public that will educate participants on secure tools for digital activism and promote discussions on a feminist internet and the deconstruction of patriarchy. Through these efforts, CódigoSur hopes to build a network of trust across women’s human rights organisations, labour union organisations, free software communities and other activists to strengthen knowledge and debate around these issues.

Derechos Digitales: Study of the regulatory frameworks for community networks development in Latin America

More and more Latin American countries are seeing a flourishing movement of communities seeking to organise and self-provide internet access in places where connection is either inexistent or unaffordable under market driven service provision models. Through this project, Derechos Digitales aims to learn about how the different regulatory frameworks in place in Latin America for community networks, particularly in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, impact the actual development of those networks, and provide some reflections about spaces for regulatory improvement. The research will reflect the opportunities and barriers that exist for local access initiatives to start up and flourish, from licensing requirements and obligations, access to spectrum, to potential support from Universal Service Funds. This research will be conducted leveraging the experience and systematising the information already gathered by APC network members that have been working developing community networks in the region in recent years.

DEF: Mapping the regulatory environment of community networks in India, Myanmar and Philippines

Over the past decade, Community Networks (CNs) have been springing up in both developing and developed countries, becoming a credible alternative solution to bring people online. Across the world, there are more than 100 community network models that act as an alternative bottom-up approach, based on community-driven infrastructure development, as a substitute – or, at least, a complement – to the classic top-down operator-driven paradigm. Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and the Internet Society (ISOC) published a policy paper titled, ‘Community Networks: Regulatory issues and gaps – Experiences from India’ which outlines a strategy for improving the availability of affordable broadband as a case study in understanding the legal and regulatory challenges of spectrum allocation and management, licensing regulation, and bandwidth issues in India. The paper also investigates the efficacy of creating wireless community networks (WCNs) and explores policies that could help in creating widespread information infrastructure for the country to better connect the subcontinent. Based on this paper, the proposed research project aims to map the regulatory environment of community networks in India, Myanmar and Philippines. The research paper will analyse policy regulatory environments affecting community networks in these countries and identify the regulatory challenges and gaps that exist. As an outcome, this policy paper will help government to understand the policy gaps and create conducive environment for the last mile connectivity.

May First/People Link: Movement Convergences on Technology Strategy

There is a disconnect in North America between the leading technology advocacy organizations and the grassroots movements at the forefront of social change. The advocates of free software, Internet rights, and an independent Internet are largely run by well-funded organizations that are (or are perceived to be) white and male dominated without an interest or desire to engage in the community and grass-roots struggles led by a social justice movement that has long been run by people of colour and women. The recent development of a network of "movement technologists" (and the release of the Movement Technologist Statement) has begun dramatically changing the situation. Most of those in this network are people of colour, women and LGBTQ and non-conforming people. To address the previous disconnect and assess the political impact of this change in the movement techie community, May First/People Link, in collaboration with the Centre for Media Justice/Media Action Grassroots Network and the Progressive Technology Project, is planning a series of regional technology congresses to bring together movement leaders in a full day conversation about the impact of technology and the Internet in their work with a goal of creating an outline of a technology agenda for the left that more accurately reflects the opinions and visions of the most active parts of our movement.

Media Matters for Democracy: Manufacturing Consent: Assessing Political Hashtags for Engineered Conversations Aiming to Shape Political Opinions

When the general elections in Pakistan conclude in July 2018, it will be a unique one in its country’s history. Pakistan has the highest tele-density and internet penetration in its electoral history — nearly 57 million broadband connections [in households, offices, public and private spaces etc] according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, connecting an estimated 60 to 70 million citizens. This means that social media platforms could play an extremely important role in political campaigning, mobilisation and /or opinion shaping. However, this, combined with the fact that platforms are used and manipulated in a very organised manner by political actors to spread misinformation / disinformation, incite violence against political rivals, and permeate online public forums with engineered political narratives, ideas and conversations, raises many concerns. Considering this, MMFD has developed a framework to assess the oragnic-ness of political hashtags on Twitter, and the quality of conversations therein. Using deep analytics tools, they have observed, monitored and studied many political hashtags and have developed a set of indicators and identifiers to help understand the pattern and thus the likelihood of identifying ‘human-bots’ hijacking political hashtags and flooding them with engineered political ideas and conversations to manipulate political processes. Through this grant, MMFD aim to monitor top political hashtags on Twitter during the specified period of the general elections, and analyse them using said tools and indicators / identifiers and publish weekly reports on it. This would also constitute as evidence for the manipulation of platforms to affect political processes in Pakistan. MMFD will further publish a consolidated research report presenting the findings at the end of the project.

Nodo Tau: Contributions for the design of a comprehensive local WEEE management system

E-waste or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is becoming increasingly difficult to manage in the digital age. Nodo Tau has been developing several initiatives around the theme of WEEE for more than 15 years, from the reuse of computers in Communitarian Telecentres and providing training for the start-up of a municipal WEEE Re-cycling enterprise, to the delivery of conferences and dissemination of the subject. Through this project, they aim to provide information for the establishment of the basic guidelines of a WEEE Management System for Rosario and other near cities in Argentina, which will improve the indexes of recovery and recycling of WEEE in the region, detailing the roles and responsibilities of each actor (companies, government, academic institutions, NGOs), and registering these proposals in the new paradigm of the Circular Economy. Further, the project also seeks to collaborate with WEEE management ventures, both current and those in development, increasing jobs in the sector, particularly for young people.

OWP: Feminist Internet in Western Balkan

Since the creation of the Feminist Principles of the Internet, OWP has been working on promotion and dissemination. For this project they will develop a longer article about each principle from the perspective of their region (4 counties that speak the same language: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia). Each article will be presented with some catchy visualization. This material will be used in events and talks.

Pangea: eReuse: Sustainable and accessible citizen computing through access to reusable digital devices

In Catalonia, Spain, public organizations, private companies, zero waste advocacy organizations, social enterprises active in reuse, repair and recycling, exchange services and goods around a circular economy of digital devices such as laptops, desktops and mobile phones through the eReuse Catalunya platform run by Pangea. The challenge of these local groups is to implement a circular economy from the perspective of extending the life time (or use) of the products as much as possible by repairing, updating, refurbishing and reusing them. The initial critical mass to create a pool of digital devices to sustain the platform primarily comes from city councils seeking to feed the local economy and enable reuse of their unused devices. Local stakeholders cooperate under specific local governance rules to capture and maintain an operational pool of digital devices. The result is a social infrastructure for sustainable and accessible digital devices to enable citizen computing. The aim of this project is to increase the number of municipalities willing to promote the circular economy of digital devices, diagnose their local ecosystem (reuse groups, zero waste advocacy orgs, etc), and identify barriers (legal, contractual, technological, capacities, etc) that prevent the reuse of redundant devices they have. Further, the project will develop guidelines and conduct webinars with key stakeholders to make them aware of solutions that might be appropriate to their situation. Finally, Pangea will also offer them support in replicating and adapting an open-source circular economy platform that brings automation, cost reduction, traceability, and auditability to all the steps in the lifetime of any device across repair, reuse and final recycling.

Point of View: Feminists fight back against surveillance - Building a gendered privacy and data protection agenda in India

The Supreme Court of India’s recent ruling that Indians do indeed have a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution has sparked welcome debates on privacy and data protection across the country. As the practical implementation of the right to privacy is being realised, it is also essential that feminist perspectives and voices find a place in these discussions. Point of View has in the past done considerable work on gender and the harms of surveillance and through this research project, they aim to build knowledge on privacy and data protection in India from a gendered, feminist perspective. Two crucial aspects of feminist theory that have particular relevance in the digital age are based on the idea that bodily integrity is frequently centred around morality, which ultimately constrains rather than enhances women’s autonomy, and further, the line we draw traditionally between our body and information about our body is becoming less relevant every day as data about our bodies are increasingly privileged in making decisions about our material bodies. This research aims to use these ideas as the starting point to delve into important questions of how privacy is gendered in India, if at all, and whether the standards of information privacy, which are often lower than those regarding bodily integrity, still provide sufficient protections. It ultimately seeks to build a feminist agenda for privacy and data protection rooted in the Indian context and effective advocacy strategies around the fight against surveillance by both state and corporate entities.

Protégé QV: "Watching Cameroon through the lenses of African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom

The government of Cameroon, a country of 22 million inhabitants located in the central part of Africa, puts a special emphasis on ICTs and the Internet to address the country’s major issues such as youth unemployment, poor education service quality and low business competitiveness among others. While a number of initiatives have been put in place by the government to promote the use of the internet, it also often implements network shutdowns during times of crises, raising the question of the government’s intentions to allow the enormous potential the internet promises to be expressed in Cameroon. Last year, as part of the APC sub-grants, Protégé implemented a research on the nation’s situation with respect to the 13 key principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (ADIRF) adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul (Gambia). A book gathering the results of this research has been printed in two languages, English and French. This project aims to organize a one-day event to present the research results to about 50 people, representing Government, parliamentarians, National Council on Human Rights, civil society organizations, media, regulator, telecom operators and human rights defenders, with the main objective to create awareness on the level of application of the key principles of African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom in Cameroon and present suggestions for improvement.

Riseup: Pilot research on uses of the Riseup services

Riseup as an organisation provides some of the most used secure communication services worldwide, used widely by both activists and communities. One of the key aims of their work is to explore the social conditions of their users and analyse ways in which their services could be enhanced to benefit users. In this project, Riseup plans to execute a pilot research to study the uses of the Riseup services, by developing a methodology, performing surveys and interviews and finally translating these results into concrete tasks for their team of developers. This project is based on previous exercises carried out by Riseup on users’ needs that evaluated the importance of factors as smooth usability, cost of service, policies on data ownership, the development of features and add-ons, reliability, security and privacy, a ticket system managed by humans and the diversity of the team. Riseup will be working with activists in Brazil and Chile, part of the feminist movement and working on issues related to sexual and reproductive rights, which will form the background for this pilot research.

Rudi International: HakiConf 2018: The Conference on Human Rights at the Digital Age in the DRC

Rudi International is organising the HakiCon 2018, a conference designed to bring together various stakeholders to discuss human rights in the digital age in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The conference hopes to educate participants on the concept of human rights and the way they are affected by the evolution of the Internet. For two days, topics such as Internet freedom, access to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection and other human rights aspects will be discussed. The conference will bring together various stakeholders from across DRC and potentially participants from outside the Congo to share best practices on how we can unite together and ensure human rights are protected on and offline. Through this project, Rudi International hopes to create a momentum and an opportunity where participants will learn, discuss and challenge existing practices affecting their digital rights.

WOUGNET: Investigating technology-related violence against women in peri-urban areas of Uganda

Technology-related violence against women has become increasingly prevalent in Uganda. Research conducted by WOUGNET in 2015 showed that 45% of Ugandan female internet users experience some form of online violence including cyberstalking, sexual harassment, surveillance and unauthorised use and manipulation of personal information. Despite this, there is a lack of qualitative and quantitative data that examines the extent to which this affects Ugandan women. Cases reported through mainstream and social media offer at best fragmented details of how the violence manifests. WOUGNET proposes to use this grant to carry out a detailed study in peri-urban areas of Uganda, where internet access and infrastructure are fairly well distributed, in order to explore the forms of violence faced by women online, the nature and scope of the violence, and the channels used to perpetrate these attacks. Through this research, WOUGNET aims not only to present data on technology-related violence against women, but also to interrogate what legislative and social justice mechanisms are available for reporting, redressal and punishment of the perpetrators. The research findings will be used to raise awareness among policy makers and other key stakeholders in the areas of women’s rights online, internet policy and gender advocacy. WOUGNET also seeks to undertake public outreach through production of a video documentary tackling these issues and a public mural painting campaign to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November-10 December).

 

(*) Indicates grants exceptionally supported with the Solidarity fund

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

 

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