Through research, advocacy and debate, the Internet Democracy Project seeks to unearth both the changes wrought by technology to democracy-as-we-know-it and the implications of these changes for our visions of progessive social change if they are to remain relevant in the digital age.
This blog post is eight in a series of ten blog posts to report on the “Third South Asian Meeting on the Internet and Freedom of Expression” recently concluded in Dhaka, Bangladesh. All the blog posts in this series are written by Richa Kaul Padte, the official rapporteur at the meeting.
Ahmed Swapan, VOICE
Bringing together government officials, technology experts, activists, and bloggers, this public meeting was an opportunity for a panel of speakers to interact with the wider public in order to usefully move forward discussions around freedom of expression online. The meeting was opened and chaired by Ahmed Swapan, Executive Director of VOICE (the meeting’s Bangladeshi organisers), who framed the issue by citing Article 19 as a universal right to freedom of expression, and one that has faced serious intimidations in the subcontinent. Thanking in particular the bloggers present (especially in light of the stabbing of blogger Mohiuddin the previous night), Swapan hopes that all those attending the meeting can work together for freedom of expression online.
The Internet Democracy Project has joined forces with other civil society organisations participating in the ITU’s WCIT Conference in Dubai in requesting the ITU Secretary General and the Chairperson of the WCIT meeting to ensure that the continued barriers to civil society participation in the WCIT and the ITU are removed at the earliest. The text of the letter that was sent to the ITU Secretary General and the WCIT’s Chairperson today can be found below. Other civil society organisations and their members are encouraged to endorse this statement. Please email WCIT12civilsociety@gmail.com to add your support.An updated list of signatories can be found here.
9 December 2012
Open letter to the WCIT
Dear Secretary General Touré and WCIT-12 Chairman Al-Ghanim:
We, the undersigned members of civil society, are attending the ongoing World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), both physically and remotely. We appreciate your efforts to engage with global civil society and trust that you will take this letter in the same spirit of constructive engagement.
We believe that openness and transparency should be the hallmark of any effort to formulate public policy. In the months approaching the conference, and in our experience at the WCIT so far, we have discovered that certain institutional structures continue to hamper our ability to contribute to the WCIT process in a meaningful and constructive manner.
Now that the conference is in session, we wish to call your attention to three immediate and pressing matters: the lack of any official standing to the public comments solicited prior to WCIT at the ITU’s invitation; the lack of access to and transparency of working groups, particularly the working groups of Committee 5; and the absence of mechanisms to encourage independent civil society participation. Read the rest of this entry »
In preparation for the Stockholm Internet Forum, Anja Kovacs was asked to submit a written contribution, detailing what she believes is the biggest emerging threat to online freedom. Here is what she wrote.
“While it could be argued that a range of new threats to online freedom have arisen in recent years, there is one issue in particular I would like to highlight in this written contribution: the ready acceptance by many actors in business and civil society of States’ insistence on their sovereign right to control the Internet, even if it is often patently clear that existing laws – and increasingly also new ones – are inadequate to deal with the new context and challenges that the Internet brings.
While the democratising potential of the Internet may very much continue to be a reality, even democratic elected governments all over the world seem to be hard at work to thwart that potential. Yet our willingness to accept sovereignty as a justification for these efforts seems considerable. Read the rest of this entry »
On 19 April, Anja Kovacs from the Internet Democracy Project participated in a panel discussion at the Stockholm Internet Forum on Internet Freedom for Global Development. The panel addressed emerging threats to online freedom and asked whether we are prepared for the evolving future. Other speakers on the panel were John Morrison from the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Richard Allan from Facebook, Sarah McKune from Citizen Lab and Lee Hibbard from the Council of Europe. Watch the video of the panel discussion below.
On 25 February 2012, the Internet Democracy Project organised Make Blog Not War – A Freedom of Expression Training for Bloggers. If you would like to get a glance of what we did that day, have a look at the agenda. More importantly, however, you can meet all the #Makebloggers! Click here to meet them.