Review of Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2020 by Michelle Thorne (Mozilla Foundation and Branch Magazine)
What is the weight of a byte? Who breathes in fumes so that I can stream a film? Who mines for tin while we zoom in? For too long, internet policy makers and tech companies punted their responsibilities towards people and the planet. Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) understands this dynamic and how it intersects with many other barriers to an open and inclusive internet.
A decade ago, GISWatch surveyed these issues in its first edition dedicated to the environment and the internet. That report outlines what we still need to do today: better measure and understand the true cost of the internet, invest in green grassroots technology, reduce e-waste, build advocacy networks, and more.
The 2020 GISWatch report, titled "Technology, the environment and a sustainable world", carries on this commitment. It centres on the experiences and research from the global South and deepens earlier analysis with contemporary calls for feminist, degrowth and equitable practices. We're ten more years into "business as usual". The climate crisis is accelerating, and its damages are being felt daily and everywhere. The internet is also different than it was a decade ago — more centralised, monetised and surveilled. Nevertheless, it still holds potential for us to connect, inform and shape meaningful change.
GISWatch grounds itself in its mission: provide a platform for critical global South civil society perspectives on the state of the internet and propose action towards deepening democracy, bringing human rights to the forefront, and achieving social justice. This mission is needed more than ever, and with GISWatch's latest report, as well as it legacy in advocating for these issues, you will find hope and possibilities for progressive forces.
To read a copy of this edition, please visit GISWatch.org.