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These grants are for projects that contribute to the implementation of APC’s strategic outcomes for 2020-2023 at the national level and are meant to strengthen ongoing work of APC members. In their proposals, members should demonstrate how their projects contribute to one or more of these strategic outcomes at the local level.
List of selected projects for 2022
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) (partnership) – Talking Data to the Fourth Pillar: A Collaborative Effort at Democratising the Data Protection Discourse in India and Bangladesh by Building the Capacities of Media Professionals
Summaries of selected impact grants (2022)
7amleh-The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement (7amleh) – Protecting Palestinian Freedom of Expression Online: Violations Database (7or)
To address the growing issue of hate speech and targeted attacks on Palestinians online, after many months of dedicated work, in November 7amleh launched the 7or database – the first open source online platform to monitor, document and follow up on the digital rights violations of Palestinians, which has provided a space for Palestinians to report any digital violations they encounter including account suspension, content takedowns, incitement, sneak campaigns, hacking, gender-based violence, fake news and hate speech. The platform also contains a visualisation tool that provides real-time data on Palestinian digital rights violations for academics, CSOs, researchers and students. The 7amleh team then follows up on the reports with social media companies and other relevant parties, given that 7amleh is a trusted partner of many of the largest social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter.
In this project, both organisations are in pursuit of a common objective: to facilitate access to the Roberto Arias Programme. In mid-2021, the entity that regulates telecommunications in Argentina, ENACOM, started the Roberto Arias Programme, which constitutes a pathway to the Universal Service Fund (USF) for community internet networks in Argentina. It is a pioneering, exceptional and very valuable programme that has been achieved thanks to the joint effort of the Argentine Summit of Community Networks (CARC, for its acronym in Spanish) and particularly AlterMundi.
Despite all the considerations that ENACOM clearly had at the time the programme was created, there are several aspects that hinder the participation of target communities. This is evidenced by the fact that no organisation has managed to complete its application to the programme, and those that are closest to achieving it are being assisted by AlterMundi. In dialogue with organisations and communities from different Argentine provinces, it was detected that a major impediment is the lack of previous experiences and the difficulty that this represents when presenting an administrative and technically complex project. All ENACOM programmes for the assignment of the USF foresee that those who present themselves are network operators, with experience, structure and trajectory. This is not the case when we speak of communities initiating their journey to build a community network.
This project aims to deepen promotion and support actions for those who wish to apply for the programme, reducing their obstacles.
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) – Enhancing the Flourishing of Digital Rights in Nigeria
This project is aimed at enhancing the flourishing of digital rights in Nigeria, which are currently under attack. The project hopes to do this through four complementary strategies. The first is raising the public’s awareness about the importance of digital rights and mobilising them to join the efforts to promote and protect digital rights, including the passage of the Digital Rights Bill that is currently before the National Assembly. The second is the enhancing of capacity of civil society leaders and journalists to protect themselves online as they campaign for the promotion of digital rights and also result in a core of campaigners for digital rights in the country who will engage in both public awareness raising and campaign activities around the digital rights and the Digital Rights Bill. These leaders would be trained on protecting their rights, including keeping safe online, as well as on advocacy strategies for ensuring the expansion of the space for the flourishing of digital rights in the country. The third is the consolidation of the Bauchi Feminist Internet School (BAFIS), which has been producing campaigners for gender digital inclusion, a core part of the campaign to ensure that digital rights in Nigeria are not gender blind, but rather mainstream gender and feminist perspectives. BAFIS a three-day intensive residential school for both female and male participants that exposes participants to feminist thinking around technology and the internet in particular. The fourth and last is a series of advocacy activities aimed at passing the Digital Rights Bill. This includes the holding of a National Stakeholders Forum on the Digital Rights Bill and advocacy engagements with the members of the National Assembly.
Colnodo has recently implemented a platform for project management of geographic information systems with QGIS Desktop and QGIS Server. This system makes it possible to create different projects in a geographic information system using a single platform. Based on this experience, Colnodo plans to implement a map server in the Sustainable Development Network (www.rds.org.co) that will allow organisations, activists and other interested parties to put their maps online with the possibility of using tools such as: exporting information in spreadsheet formats; filtering by attributes; printing; making measurements; linking with multimedia content; displaying graphics; displaying tables of attributes; sharing with social networks; uploading CSV tables of coordinates; a download panel of cartographic data; and an interface adaptable to mobile devices and multitemporal data display by days, weeks, months or years.
Colnodo will offer this service through the Sustainable Development Network in such a way that users only have to worry about publishing their maps, without having to install the system that supports them or perform updates or maintenance. Likewise, a data capture client for mobile devices using Android will be made available to users for the collection of information in the field.
Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) (partnership) – Talking Data to the Fourth Pillar: A Collaborative Effort at Democratizing the Data Protection Discourse in India and Bangladesh by Building the Capacities of Media Professionals
Countries in the Indian sub-continent are increasingly cognisant of the need for legislation on privacy. Opinions on drafting effective legislation on privacy differ among the stakeholders, depending on whether they are part of civil society, the corporate sector or government machinery. These processes are happening in a global landscape influenced by Cambridge Analytica, surveillance technologies, the Pegasus project, and increased digitisation across sectors.
Seeing the parallels between the data protection regimes of India and Bangladesh, where the status of privacy laws are at a similar juncture now, DEF and VOICE decided to collaboratively initiate a capacity-building and knowledge-exchange programme for youth, citizen journalists and mainstream journalists. This programme was conceptualised with the aim of educating participants on privacy, data protection and online safety.
In May 2023, EngageMedia, in collaboration with a consortium of partners, will host the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Festival 2023. Over 300 participants will join the week-long event, to be hosted across a variety of creative spaces, including galleries, museums, cafés and theatres. It will be held in Southeast Asia, with the exact location to be finalised in the coming months.
This edition of the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Festival will convene and catalyse important conversations and collaborations to address vital issues, including digital authoritarianism (see https://engagemedia.org/projects/pandemic-control/), free speech and media freedom, disinformation, digital safety, digital labour, and much more. Its primary aim is to infuse the digital rights movement with an even broader range of allied actors: journalists, media makers, digital rights and human rights advocates, artists, designers, funders and technologists.
Fundación Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes (EsLaRed) – Learning Management Platform for Education Using Open Technologies (Edu-catEnTA)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Venezuelan educational system began to implement educational strategies supported by information and communications technologies (ICTs) that allow the continuity of learning processes. However, the critical situation in the country due to the socioeconomic crisis, coupled with the pandemic, affected the development of remote academic activities due to the deficiency of public services (electricity, internet, etc.), the obsolescence of technological platforms, and the digital divide that exists in Venezuelan society that prevents inclusion, equity and quality of education at different educational levels. In this context, there is a lack of training plans for teachers in the management and use of digital technologies, as well as access to innovative and integrative platforms in learning management, which guarantee efficient remote educational processes. This project proposes to develop an innovative technological platform that allows the management of a training plan for teachers for access to and use and management of open technologies for education.
Fantsuam Foundation – Digital Inclusion for Internally Displaced Pupils, Children with Disabilities and Teachers in Southern Kaduna
Over the last 10 years, Kaduna State in Nigeria has experienced a near tripling of violent incidents involving armed groups. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, there have been 220 violent events, which resulted in nearly a thousand fatalities. Moreover, there have been roughly 400 persons abducted for ransom and hundreds of communities destroyed, causing the displacement of more than 500,000 people. Over the last year, Kaduna State has recorded the second highest number of episodes of political violence and fatalities in northern Nigeria, with thousands of victims now homeless or in makeshift homes. These factors have worked together to keep a large population of displaced persons in a state of digital exclusion. In addition, there has been no focused effort at digital inclusion of persons living with disabilities in the affected communities. Fantsuam Foundation is located in one of the affected communities and provides services in the others. This proposal’s focus on digital literacy will enrich the learning process for teachers, persons with disabilities and children in three schools that have a high population of children from internally displaced parents.
International Association of Women in Radio and Television - Kenya (IAWRT-K) – Amplifying Women's "Digital" Voices
Though Kenya has made significant strides in the area of information and communications technology (ICT), there are glaring gaps in women’s inclusion and full utilisation of the online space for social, political and economic growth. This is specifically noticeable in the rural areas, where the majority of women face a lack of the requisite skills, poor infrastructure, economic constraints and deliberate gender discrimination. They therefore have to struggle to access what are supposed to be basic operations, such as applications for a driver’s license, a passport and even identity cards, which are now fully automated to be filled out online. This is a denial of basic rights. Having participated in research to establish the gender gaps in ICT and undertaken subsequent trainings on digital safety, the project comes at the opportune time for IAWRT-K to build on the initial work they have done to ensure that women are empowered to effectively utilise the online space. The project will facilitate digital literacy training and acquisition of smartphones and internet bundles to enable local leaders to participate fully in public discourse.
In the Gambia, youth make up a population of approximately two million people. Roughly 60% of the Gambian population is under the age of 25. This project focuses on cultivating digital skills and digital human rights knowledge specifically for marginalised youth.
For the purpose of this project, marginalised youth can be defined as youth who are marginalised by geography (for example, those who live in rural areas and are therefore less likely to access digital resources); marginalised financially (those who self-describe as poor, with a lack of funding for post-secondary education); or marginalised by gender (those who self-identify as women, transgender or non-binary). In addition to these intersections of marginalisation, youth who finished secondary school in the academic years 2020 and 2021 are especially vulnerable, due to the lack of experiential learning opportunities available during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the 2019 National Census, 2.2% of Kenyans (0.9 million people) live with some form of disability. They not only have a right to social justice and equality, but they can also make immense contributions to society if given the proper assistive tools. ICTs and the internet provide tools and platforms that empower people with disabilities to interact with communities just like the rest of the population.
The challenges that persons with disabilities (PWDs) face in accessing the internet became glaring during the COVID-19 pandemic, when multiple essential public services from the government and the private sector were moved online. These services remained inaccessible to persons with visual, hearing and physical disabilities. What seemed to be an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic had a completely opposite impact on persons with disabilities. In view of this situation, this project is primarily meant to promote effective access to and use of the internet by PWDs.
Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) – Connecting the Underserved: Using Community Networks to Bridge the Information Gap in Rural Communities of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria
The Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) proposes to implement a citizen science-based project that uses last-mile network infrastructure to set up and install community networks using community-oriented strategies that will provide self-sustaining and affordable internet access to rural and urban poor communities in Rivers state. This proposed project builds on the successful initial “seed support” for proof of concept supported by the APC Local Networks (LocNet) initiative and Open Culture Foundation (OCF), an APC member in Taiwan, which provided finances and technical support for installation, capacity building and the initial set of air quality sensing devices. Funding is now being sought to respond to demand by additional communities for air quality sensors and to scale the project to more sustainable levels.
This project proposal aims at creating a broad knowledge base around gaps in corporate accountability and governance and the impact of the lack of accountability of big tech, and initiating the work towards creation of a regional working group to work on the same. The project is not envisioned as one that can directly initiate corporate accountability-related advocacy; rather it is envisioned as one that lays the groundwork and initiates a regional team [working group] that can collectively lead the work in the coming years. While this is not an approach that is usually taken by development projects, we believe that in Asia, big tech has largely been unaccountable to people and operated without any transparency due to the political economy of the region, which often leaves digital rights advocates either without a reliable government (thus without an option to work towards accountability through national laws and policies) or without the market power that would allow states to exert pressure on big tech. As a result, voices for corporate governance and accountability have been largely scattered, focused on incidents rather than structure, and unable to work towards collective policy goals. This scenario has direct and often violent implications, especially when it comes to countering online gender-based violence and also for countering digital misinformation and disinformation.
Pollicy – The Future of Work: Improving Digital Safety for Women at Work and Combating Gendered Disinformation
This project draws on prior work in utilising multimedia to address emerging issues, risks and challenges associated with online abuse and maximising the potential of the internet for women. Specifically, what role does the media play in promoting a safe internet and internet governance, namely in their reporting and storytelling? Building on our pilot “The Future of Work: Digital Safety for Women in the Workplace Harnessing Multimedia for Digital Safety” and using our reports and research, we will support and strengthen digital and safety capacities for journalists, online content creators and bloggers, in turn through content creation and news to combat gendered disinformation targeting women in general, women politicians, human rights defenders, and marginalised groups such as the LGBT community.
Centring bodies as the site of inquiry where gender, sexuality and digital materiality are manifested and shaped, “Digital Everyday: Bodies, Technologies and Social Justice” is an online course or three-month learning journey that 1) builds a feminist understanding of entanglements between bodies, technologies and social justice and 2) is based on a feminist pedagogy and shaped by principles of co-creation, collaboration, care and critique.
PROTEGE QV – Assessing the Respect for Citizens' Digital Rights in Africa Through the Lenses of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms
Although Africa is experiencing the highest internet growth rate in the world, with an annual increase of 20%, freedom of expression and access to information, freedom of assembly and association on the internet, and other digital rights are regularly violated by internet shutdowns in crisis situations or for political reasons. In fact, the internet is a powerful lever for the promotion and defence of human rights, sometimes embarrassing for governments. Many African countries have moved from low to highly regulated internet environments, firstly to prevent crime and secondly to restrict critical voices. These violations are clearly perceived by citizens, but they do not have the means to assess the respect of their rights on the internet and much less to demand it. This projects aims, firstly, to improve the design of the Index of Internet Rights and Freedoms developed in 2017 by collecting the relevant and measurable indicators related to the respect of digital rights in the five countries selected; secondly, to evaluate the level of respect of digital rights by these countries for a reference year using the improved Index; and finally, to publish the results on platforms, creating the opportunity for contributions.
Rudi International believes that every single Congolese child and youth needs to be introduced to and acquire digital skills as an opportunity for emancipation, especially those coming from marginalised communities and who are not able to afford to own a personal computer or a smartphone.
This project proposal aims at supporting the creation and setup of an ICT and Innovation Centre in Lac Vert, one of the suburbs of Goma, a city in the eastern part of the DRC. The facility, once equipped with all necessary ICT-related equipment, will serve to introduce the community (particularly the youth, women and children) to technology and the internet by providing ongoing digital literacy classes in order to support the new generation of technology leaders. The Innovation Centre, the first of its kind in the neighbourhood, will be equipped in order to give this community the opportunity to be in sync with the more and more digitally connected world.
Through this grant, Servelots’ broad objective is to harness the technology transformations and standards in the ecosystem over the past 10 years to make renarration tools more widely available and adaptable. The project’s agenda is to investigate how inclusion can be addressed by provisioning tools for content accessibility and their significance for decentralised scenarios. Renarration is not simply a process of translation, because words often need to be illustrated with images or audio embellishments. The approach used by Servelots involves engaging in activities and deploying tools that aid in connecting text-heavy pages to audio/visual mediums that are suitable for low-literate and differently abled populations. This is possible by effectively enabling a social semantic web of renarrations (see examples at open.janastu.org/projects/renarration). The ensuing Social Semantic Web can be exploited by trust networks at organisation level who are able to publish curated content to their customers while maintaining the proof of provenance via deep links to original content.
Cooperativa Sulá Batsú – Fair and Equitable Work and Employment for Women in the Digital Sector in Costa Rica
Since 2013, Sulá Batsú has been working with women who study, work and want to join the digital industry. Its work is based on the economic rights of women, because the digital industry is a space of opportunity for personal and professional growth and a strong dynamic of expansion throughout the national territory.
However, the number of women studying and working in this industry sector continues to decline, despite multiple public and private initiatives that try to attract them. Based on the evidence generated by the women's experience, Sulá Batsú starts from the hypothesis that the low participation of women is due to the fact that this is a space of power, dominated by white, urban men with high purchasing power who – although they need women, due to the deficit of human resources – are not willing to create conditions of equity in the work dynamics that allow women to feel included in fair and equitable work processes.
In this project, Sulá Batsú wants to continue this exploration, to validate its hypothesis that the low participation of women in the IT sector is not due to their lack of interest or low capacity, but is due to the fact that it is a space of power where they cannot integrate in conditions of equity.
TEDIC – Perils and Opportunities of Digitalisation for Environmental Justice During the Climate Crisis
The Department of San Pedro in Paraguay is known nationally for its soy plantations and economic dependence on unsustainable cattle raising. The effects of climate change on its population have been widely studied, mainly due to drought, which places the area in food insecurity, in a department where more than 36% of the population is in a situation of poverty, especially in rural areas. There, TEDIC has formed an alliance with a network of rural women called Kuña Aty of the community Táva Guaraní. Alongside the Instituto Latinoamericano de Terraformación, in this project they seek to answer a question that is not often addressed: What is a just digital transition? This is especially relevant when the global North pushes concepts such as "Twin Transitions", with an economic component, without even asking about the planetary social justice of these efforts. If digitalisation can be a crucial component for a planet in a climate crisis, what kind of digitalisation are we talking about? Under what conditions? For whom? The three organisations involved believe that the South must advance in a critical vision of digitalisation in the context of the climate crisis, and consider that the rural women of Paraguay who are currently dealing with climate crisis effects and lack of meaningful digital connectivity can contribute with a vision that enriches concepts such as meaningful connectivity and twin transitions.
Uganda is among the 24 African countries that have enacted data protection laws in the recent past. Uganda’s Data Protection and Privacy Act, 2019 was fully operationalised in mid-2021, after regulations to the Act were endorsed and a Personal Data Protection Office established with a designated National Director.
Although this is considered as a positive step towards recognition of privacy as a fundamental human right, enforcement, compliance and respect for people’s data privacy by state and non-state actors remain a hurdle. According to Unwanted Witness’s Privacy Scorecard report, data collectors and processors are still struggling with compliance to the data protection law and safeguarding users’ rights and dignity. The inaugural report also flagged the inconsistency with the companies’ internal privacy policies across different African countries.
The project shall involve conducting data protection and privacy awareness sessions within selected organised institutions of higher learning, mainly targeting the youths who constitute over 70% of the population in Uganda, and the majority of users of technology. Working with organised institutions facilitates a wider public alliance, but also considering that young people are either already activists in these institutions or are the next human rights defenders. These engagements will enable Unwanted Witness to identify and build alliances as well as create the much needed data privacy awareness to ensure that the public can reclaim their power and control over their personal data.