Feminist reflection on internet policies

Changing the way you see ICT

Stockholm Internet Forum 2014: Good debates to benefit the next billion online

Tarryn Booysen
Tarryn Booysen on 4 July, 2014 - 13:36
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Tarryn is a South African BA graduate with majors in Psychology and Sociology. She currently works on the "End Violence: Women’s rights and safety online" project as the administrative assistant. Tarryn is also responsible for the weekly section of GenderIT, DJ’s choice.
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End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project country partner and coordinator in the Philippines, Lisa Garcia, attended the annual Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) which took place on the 27th and 28th May 2014.

This event was sponsored by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is currently in its third year of running. A few sessions took place prior to the actual forum (26th May). Lisa was able to attend a session on ICT and gender equality: Women shaping the digital space, where Jennifer Radloff of APC was one of the panelists and was given the opportunity to discuss gender and ICT issues. This session proved to be very fruitful as Lisa was able share in an open forum the research relating to internet intermediaries to end violence against women.

The official start of SIF 2014 was opened with remarks from Sweden’s Minister for Information Technology and Energy, Anna Karin. The two sessions that followed focused on the state of current global internet landscape and on privacy and managing data, especially among CSOs.

Parallel sessions were held in the afternoon. Lisa attended a session on “Affordable and equal access: How to get the next billion online”, and this lead to two consecutive parallel unconferences. Two of them about UNESCO’s research on the internet, and on hate speech. The representative of UNESCO tried gaining information from the panel speakers and the participants about what should also be included in the paper that they were preparing, which should have a zero draft in time for the UNESCO conference in February 2015. The presentation on hate speech focused mainly on experience of Moldova, but an open forum was held where sharing of other forms of hate speech was encountered.

On day 2 the focus was on the possibility of applying the rule of law online. It was followed by another parallel session. The one on ”Inclusive internet governance”, focused specifically on the NetMundial process and how different it was from other internet forums.

According to Lisa Garcia, one of the conclusions of the forum is that indeed there is still the need for continuous dialogue between and among the different stakeholders because there are many issues that are still up for debate and these include big data, hardware and software revolution, right to be forgotten, privacy and surveillance, women and the web, among others. The general agreement was that the SIF and succeeding discussions are important and that they will benefit the next billion online.

The absence of Edward Snowden was a major discussion. Snowden’s name appeared in the list of possible invitees to the forum but was later discarded. The explanation received from the organizers was that they had to guarantee a gender balance in the list of participants. The US was also heavily criticized on the issue of privacy and surveillance.

In spite of this, “it should also be noted that the SIF was a good venue to network with individuals and organizations that are working on similar issues,” Lisa emphasized.

 

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