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< ICF Initiatives >

The Internet Commons Forum’s first meeting during the IGF 2019 brought to the fore several ongoing initiatives. Follow them below.

A comprehensive narrative to move European policy from a purely market based approach to an approach that is focused on society, bringing the values of solidarity and community to the political agenda. The premise: everything is digital now. Our society cannot be just about markets and EU policy cannot be only about the ‘Digital Single Market’ as it is now.

Communities that decided to connect themselves, attempting to do what the government and corporations weren’t able to. For example, the Libre Router Project: a group of hackers and engineers with experience in deploying community networks around the globe got together and decided that they should build their own router. And so, the LibreRouter project was born: an opportunity to address the particular needs of community networks, while also addressing the shortcomings of off-the-shelf devices.

Rhizomatica uses new information and communication technologies, especially mobile telephony, to facilitate well-being, community organization and personal and collective autonomy. Their approach combines regulatory activism and reform, development of decentralized telecommunications infrastructure, direct community involvement and participation, and critical engagement with new technologies. One highlight in their capacity-building efforts is techiocomunitario, a project that seeks to generate a training space for those who wish to develop the necessary skills to provide technical support to broadcasting equipment, cellular networks and wireless internet networks in their communities.

The Tribal Digital Village (TDVNet) Network/Initiative was born in 2001 and at the moment serves 20 tribal communities. It has been a long term goal of the Tribal Digital Village(TDV), a Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA) program that spawned the TDV Network (TDVNet) back in 2001, to bring Internet services to key community buildings and programs. They have done the ground work to support key community operations on reservations, and created over 350 miles of point-to-point and point-to-multi-point links supporting 86 tribal buildings, i.e. tribal administration buildings, EPA departments, fire stations, law enforcement, utilities departments, and Libraries, Schools and Head Start programs.

Are we in control of the devices that we own? Who owns the infrastructure that connects us? qaul.net is a set of tools that allows devices like laptops and smartphones to create a wireless mesh network over Bluetooth and direct WiFi connections, rather than relying on internet access via a mobile network. This decentralised and open network extends across any qaul.net-enabled device, so that if two people aren’t close enough to each other for their devices to connect directly, data can be sent via other devices in the middle, without those devices being able to read or change the messages passing through it. It is an internet-independent wifi mass-communication app, a network that interconnects devices directly.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that allows the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal instruments. It helps you to legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more just, accessible and innovative world. With a network of employees, a board and a global network of contributors, Creative Commons offers free and easy-to-use copyright licenses to create a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work. CC licenses allow you to easily change your copyright terms from the “all rights reserved” standard to “some rights reserved”.

IT for Change is an NGO based in Bengaluru, India, and aims for a society in which digital technologies contribute to human rights, social justice and equity. Most mainstream approaches to digital technologies for development are either techno-utopic or promote a market-fundamentalist approach, often both together. A digital makeover of economies and societies has become a convenient opportunity for wholesale corporatisation of social systems, displacing the cornerstone ethics of democratic participation, commons, social justice and gender equality from development discourse.

PersonalData.IO is a nonprofit organisation focused on making data rights individually actionable and collectively useful. It encourages collaborative dynamics between the general public and within civil society in all of its diversity (activists, researchers, educators etc.). These dynamics materialize around information about the personal data ecosystem, as well as cutting edge tools to respond to current practices and shape the future of the personal data economy.

Tactical Tech is an international NGO that engages with citizens and civil-society organisations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society. It was founded in 2004 (times of Microsoft dominance, open source secure software had a high digital literacy requirement) to help activists in high risk environments secure themselves and maintain infrastructure they wholly earned. 

Its mission has broadened, and now it runs four key projects targeting a core sector of society: The Glass Room, a public facing data awareness project and exhibition that examines the role of data in people lives; The Data Detox Kit, complementing the glass room. A tool that helps a data conscious public to limit people exposure and gain better independent decision-making over how they engage with tech and platforms; Data and Politics, focused on policy makers and interrogates the growing role of data and profiling in election campaigns; Exposing the Invisible, a project about the techniques, tools and methods of digital and non-digital investigations. Using activities, films, guides and a bank of resources, Exposing the Invisible aims to encourage transparency and accountability and to make investigation accessible to everyone; Data and activism, a research project that investigates the impact of data collection on activists, journalists, human rights defenders and civil society organisations, exploring the potential impact and offering protection strategies and creative responses; and Youth and Technology, which engages young people, parents and educators with the biggest questions facing our digital environment now and in the future, using critical thinking skills and data literacy knowledge to set the agenda for a positive and participatory digital future.

Netzpolitik.org is a journalistic media from Germany, covering all kinds of digital rights issues. The non profit organisation also analyses processes and political draft bills, such as surveillance and net neutrality bills, aiming to “give civil society a voice”. They create awareness and give early warning to civil society, lawmakers and other journalists in the fight for digital rights.

The Internet Commons Forum (ICF) is jointly organised by FGV, ISOC, APC and Centrum Cyfrowe.

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