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Tech for Democracy, an initiative that encompasses the Days of Action from 8 to 12 November and the virtual conference Tech for Democracy 2021 on 18 November, is an event spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark which aims to mobilise different stakeholders at all political levels to identify solutions and commit to taking concrete actions to make tech work for democracy, rather than undermining it.
One of the aims of Tech for Democracy is to hold governments and tech companies accountable for their digital responsibility and work towards achieving a more resilient civil society that uses technology as a positive force for change instead of primarily having to protect itself against it.
This initiative contemplates several steps in the process towards producing the Copenhagen Pledge on Tech for Democracy as the basis for commitments by governments and other stakeholders to propose solutions that meet the needs and realities of people.
The Tech for Democracy Days of Action are led by civil society and each Day of Action is dedicated to an overarching theme and will include a myriad of sessions hosted by actors from around the globe and across all time zones. The five themes are:
APC was invited to join one of the advisory groups of the initiative and we are contributing to ensure that digital rights, digital inclusion, women's rights, environmental justice and social justice issues are on the table. APC will engage in these five days of multistakeholder dialogue on how technology can support democracy and human rights, through leading two sessions and sharing remarks during the opening and closing plenaries of the event:
Monday 8 November / 12:00 – 13:00 (UTC+ 1): Josephine Miliza, from KICTANet and Africa regional coordinator for the "Connecting the Unconnected" project, will be speaking during the opening plenary.
Tuesday 9 November / 14:00-15:30 (UTC+ 1): Making digital tech work to democratise local communities and support environmental justice
Wednesday 10 November / 11:00-12:00 (UTC+ 1): Freedom of expression, digital technology and gender justice
Friday 12 November / 16.00-17.00 (UTC+ 1): Chat Garcia Ramilo, APC executive director, will be speaking during the closing plenary.
9 November - 14:00-15:30 UTC+1: Making digital tech work to democratise local communities and support environmental justice
Digital technologies pose increasingly complex and contextual challenges, threats and opportunities for democracy and human rights. Community-led development and deployment of digital technologies at very local levels has proven to be essential for achieving outcomes in which people affected by exclusion, discrimination and inequality are able to meaningfully use and shape the internet and digital technologies to meet their specific needs. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), in partnership with Rhizomatica and a group of locally managed community networks, are working to contribute to enabling ecosystems for the emergence and growth of community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives.
At the same time, local community land and environmental defenders are increasingly facing threats and violations of their rights in their access to and use of digital technologies. Recent research conducted by Citizen Lab in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines reveals how environmental defenders in rural areas have low levels of access to the internet and mobile networks, and often only have access to shared devices, creating additional risks and challenges for digital safety and security. Digital attacks against land and environmental defenders often target family and friends, and create a chilling effect in their communities. Most of the digital platforms and spaces in which these attacks occur are owned and operated by private companies that are far removed from the realities of these defenders, and are unable or unwilling to adequately address these attacks and rights violations. Community networks and community-led development and deployment of digital technologies offer real and viable alternatives that are rooted in the principles and values of the local communities that are involved.
Speakers in this session will share and reflect on their work and experiences in community-led development and deployment of digital technologies, including how these initiatives respond to ongoing threats to human rights and democracy. Participants will also be invited to reflect on how seeking tech solutions that are centred in local communities and environmental justice can meaningfully contribute to technological transformation that is conducive to and respectful of democracy and human rights. An expected output of this session will be the identification of good practices and recommendations to different stakeholders to centre local communities and environmental justice in the development and deployment of digital technologies.
Tamara Terso, Intervozes, Brazil
Sarbani Belur, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Carlos Baca, Rhizomatica, Mexico
Irene Poetranto, Citizen Lab, Canada
Moderator: Shawna Finnegan, APC, Canada
10 November - 11:00-12:00 UTC+1: Freedom of expression, digital technology and gender justice
In October 2021, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression delivered a groundbreaking report to the UN General Assembly on freedom of expression and gender justice. The report covers a number of issues that demonstrate how information and communications technologies (ICTs), and in particular the internet, have become an enabler of women’s freedom of expression and participation in public life, while also providing new grounds for human rights violations against women and gender non-conforming people to take place and be amplified. This session will invite commentators to discuss some of the report’s findings and propose concrete measures aimed at the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
Neema Iyer, Afro Feminist Data, Pollicy
Jac sm Kee, Using technology to advance feminist organising and gender-just outcomes, Numun Fund
Danya Centeno, Social media and gender-based violence online, Twitter
Gayatri Khandhadai, Hate speech and misogyny on the internet, APC Challenge project
Facilitator: Paula Martins, APC
To register and receive more information and updates about Tech for Democracy and the Days of Action, please visit: Tech for Democracy 2021