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This is the seventh installment in the series celebrating 15 years of APC’s publication, Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), exploring the origins of this powerful project while looking toward the future. Here we consider the reflections of researchers around the globe who have contributed to the report year after year, including the latest edition, GISWatch 2021-2022: Digital futures for a post-pandemic world.

In the words of GISWatch authors: Pangea and

In Catalonia, Lorena Merino, Mireia Roura Salietti and Leandro Navarro of APC member Pangea and the initiative reflect on their years of contributing to GISWatch:

"We have learnt over all the editions that GISWatch is precisely that voice of the global South that still needs to be represented in  decision-making and power structures. It is a way of bringing together all of us who, despite speaking different languages, practising different religions or living in different cultures, use the same moral and ethical codes to guide our steps and our environment. It is the witness of how things should be done and are not being done, as well as the mirage we have left to avoid collapse. Or, as the philosopher Marina Garcés says, it is the proof that collapse itself is not collapsing us."

A look at the latest research

In their latest country report addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on civil society ability to do its advocacy work, they write the following:

"Digital inequality became a blatant inequity that the government was forced to address. And it did so through the old, familiar linear economy model, with the government of Catalonia putting out a tender for the acquisition of more than 300,000 laptops for some 82 million Euros. The number was insufficient for the existing needs and the solution turned out to not be so effective: in January 2021, eight months later, only 5% of the laptops had reached their destination. The shortages of devices and components and stockouts highlighted the underlying lack of resilience of the capitalist system globally, and of the linear economy, in particular." Read Pangea's full report: "For better or worse? The impact of an accelerated transition to online work and life."

Image: Pangea and eReuse's GISWatch reports reflect their extensive work on ethical internet
[Image: Pangea and eReuse's GISWatch reports reflect their extensive work on ethical internet.]

In the words of GISWatch authors: Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet

In South Korea, Byoung-il Oh of APC member Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet describes how GISWatch can bring regional issues to a broader readership:

"I often conduct research on digital rights, where comparative studies in several countries help me understand issues very much. GISWatch is useful for such comparative research data. Frankly, the GISWatch report is not widely read by ordinary citizens in Korea, because it is written in English. However, I think it can be a good resource for some researchers who are interested in the digital rights agenda. For Jinbonet, it is a good opportunity to share Korea's situation related to digital rights issues globally, because it is not easy for us to always share our activities or situations in Korea in English."

A look at the latest research

Most recently, Jinbonet produced powerful research on the use and abuse of surveillance technologies throughout the global health crisis:

"International organisations including the United Nations and human rights institutions in many countries have proposed human rights principles in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Basic rights may be restricted to achieve public health goals, but any policies adopted to achieve these goals should be based on law, should use the least rights-infringing means to achieve their purpose, and should not be imposed arbitrarily or applied in a way that discriminates." Continue reading Jinbonet's new report, "Introduction of surveillance technologies in the name of responding to infectious diseases."

Image: Quote from Jinbonet country report on Republic of Korea in the latest edition of GISWatch
[Image: Quote from Jinbonet country report on Republic of Korea in the latest edition of GISWatch]

In the words of GISWatch authors: Paz Peña

Crossing the globe to Latin America, Paz Peña, an independent consultant at the intersection of technology, feminism and social justice, remarks on the strength of activist voices throughout GISWatch:

"I have had the opportunity to participate in the GISWatch report several times. GISWatch offers, on the one hand, a wide possibility of expression on critical perspectives of digital technologies to issues that particularly affect the majority of the world. And it does so from the perspective of the activists themselves, which is the most refreshing aspect for me. On the other hand, it is a fundamental space to document cases for those interested in the global North and, especially, for researchers from the South: we find differences and common aspects, and we build, in this way, an advocacy agenda that crosses continents. It is one of my favourite publications and a constant reference in my work."

A look at the latest research

Peña's latest thematic report is an urgent call to action and an exposition of the imperative to end the use of fossil fuels:

"It is not so far-fetched for the digital rights community to look closely at how the climate and ecological crisis can be vital to understanding the new possibilities for ending the dominance of big data and big tech. The bad news, of course, is that the latter is already deploying investments to show themselves as the “green way” out of the crisis. If the fossil fuel kings fall, others are running after that throne. Let's not let them." Read more in Paz Peña's recent report, "Big data, big tech, big problems: Time to look beyond."

To discover the full range of reports by GISWatch authors, the 2021-2022 edition of GISWatch "Digital futures for a post-pandemic world" is now available to download.

Cover image: A scene from a video on economic, social and cultural rights produced for GISWatch.

GISWatch 15th anniversary series
  • Part I: This inaugural piece by long-time GISWatch editor Alan Finlay is the first in a series that celebrates and examines how far we've come and where we need to head next. Read more.
  • Part II: This second installment by APC's former executive director Anriette Esterhuysen considers how GISWatch has forged its own path by bringing together theory and action, evidence and experience. Read more.
  • Part III: This third installment explores reflections of what it means to write for this long-running project with Y. Z. Ya'u, a long-time Nigeria-based contributor to the report. Read more.
  • Part IV: The fourth installment examines how the initial support for GISWatch led to a strong and impactful collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Read more.
  • Part V: This the fifth installment connects us with Pablo Accuosto, the project's first coordinator, who explains how GISWatch developed into a groundbreaking publication and fundamental source of information. Read more.
  • Part VI: The sixth installment comes from Florencia Roveri, a long-standing author from Nodo TAU who has been contributing significantly to Argentina country reports since the inception of GISWatch. Read more.
  • Part VII: The seventh installment considers the reflections of researchers around the globe who have contributed to the report year after year, including the latest edition, GISWatch 2021-2022: Digital futures for a post-pandemic world. Read more.