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What is the Web you Want?

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Thousands of people are now part of an international movement to shape the future of the Web. Connect, share and speak out with others.




The Web We Want campaign was started by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, on UN Human Rights Day in Geneva.

‘The future of the Web depends on ordinary people discussing it, taking responsibility for it and challenging those who seek to control the Web for their own purposes. The first step is to answer one simple question: what kind of Web do we want?’

Sir Tim Berners-Lee


Web We Want projects are making a difference across the world every day. Let us help you to set up your own project, host an event or take action with others to build the Web we want.



Fvl electronic communications surveillance Rapid Response

Democratic guidelines for electronic communications surveillance


The context

The global debate on Intelligence and surveillance aftwer Snowdens revelations has its own pecualirites in Latin America, and specially in Argentina. While Intelligence Services in the past have been closely related to dictatorship processes in the region, there is still a strong political component in them.

On February, a reform to the Intelligence Act of 20011 was enacted by the Argentine Congress. In our view, the bill introduces several positive reforms, including among others an increased budgetary transparency and Congressional approval for the Director and Assistant Director of national intelligence, while other controversial points remain e.g. an inadequate separation between intelligence and criminal investigation related to serious federal offenses.

The Act keeps the principle that any communications surveillance must be ordered (when for criminal investigation) or authorized (when for intelligence purposes) by a judge, and centralized all wiretapping in an unit of the Secretary of Intelligence, the Directorate of Judicial Observations (DOJ). Privacy and transparency organizations have since then considered that a risky practice, because of the huge power it place under authority of the Executive branch. One of the main reforms sought by the new bill is the transfer of the communications surveillance operations to the Office of the Attorney General (PGN), under the same principles of judicial order/authorization. In principle, such reform could greatly improve the accountability and fairness of communications surveillance procedures.

The issue

The PGN is facing the challenges of the transfer. In an unexpected but welcome move, the PGN has called a number of NGOs, including FVL, for advice on the best forms to implement communications surveillance procedures and safeguards to the highest practicable human rights standards.

Via Libre's role

Fundación Vía Libre has researched and done advocacy in the field of communications surveillance for many years. We believe we can make crucial contributions to the development of democratic safeguards and accountable procedures in Argentina, and perceive that PGN's intentions are commendable. However, our budget for 2015 has already been completely allocated, and a meaningful contribution would require extra workload and resources not foreseen when we established our planning for the year.

Financial assistance required

These funds will be employed in collection and analysis of best practices in the field, with the aim to produce guidelines for electronic communications surveillance. Those guidelines will not only be useful as infput for PGN's procedures and protocols, and a guidance for congressional oversight, but will also raise the level of awareness on the communications surveillance issue in the public at large.

1Ley de Inteligencia Nacional N° 25520. Available at: (in Spanish).   

Contact them for more information here: 



Build our web 25 history

OWPSEE and Zenskaposla are using the Web We Want grant to build a user-generated history of 25 years of the Web in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Will highlight milestones in the country’s history, including the 1989 fall of communism and the end/breaking up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and the long post-conflict recovery period; the first Web “revolution” in 2008, the 2013 #JMBG online protest, and the 2014 “Bosnian Spring.” The timeline with these milestones will be launched and publicly distributed, with an open call for people submit stories related to any of these key time periods. For the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose recent history has been plagued by conflict and ethnic struggles, the Web constituted a truly unique breakthrough—the first territory without a visa requirement.

The peoples’ history will visualised through an interactive timeline which will include text and images, together with short individual digital stories, audio/video interviews with people present during key moments in the country’s Web history, and a collective participatory video. The history timeline will include the development of institutions, legislation, investments, big telecoms, small ISPs, formal civil society organisations, and informal initiatives surrounding the Web. The most significant stories will be selected and the storytellers will be invited to participate and develop their story during a storytelling workshop in Sarajevo. Meanwhile, a small team of net activists will conduct research and interviews, and will help to create and run a participatory collective video process. This team will be chosen among participants of the “Build our Web25 History” project, with the support of OWSPEE and Zenskaposla, and following a training on video production, will collaborate to create this 11 to 15-minute long collective video. The video and supporting materials will be available for download, and people will be encouraged to organise presentations in their towns, and to send feedback and updates to further enrich the timeline.  


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Mapping Private Surveillance in the Brazilian Internet

The National Association for Human Rights (ANDHEP) is mapping private surveillance in Brazil. ANDHEP’s privacy project aims to analyse surveillance techniques developed by private Internet companies in Brazil, having as normative criteria the principles of the constitutionally protected rights to privacy and transparency of social and political powers. Internet access in Brazil is increasing—around 40% of households have private access—and proportionally more social networks users than in the U.S. and as access increases, so too has the number of legal cases and lawsuits related to privacy violations by Internet companies.

We want to test the hypothesis of a tendency to “marketise” privacy through authorised or unauthorised use of personal information as profitable assets, especially for advertisement purposes. In order to do so, we will examine the privacy policies of Google and Facebook in light of national and international privacy protection standards. We will also analyse lawsuits by Brazilian users against these companies, and interview employees and directors of their offices in Brazil. Our analysis will focus on three aspects of Internet privacy and their policies on Google and Facebook: 1) the present conditions of privacy on the Web and the nature of the privacy policies; 2) tensions between privacy and freedom of commercial information, as well as between privacy and the transparency of the privacy policies; and 3) the comprehensibility and the visibility of these policies, and the efforts of companies to explain to the users how their information is used. The project will have the duration of six months (February 2014 – August 2014), and will cover a five year period (2010-2014). At the end of the project, we will launch a report that evaluates if these policies abide by national and international standards of privacy protection, along with analyses of the present conditions of online privacy and private surveillance practices in Brazil. At the end of the project we will also organise a seminar to disseminate the online report and results.


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GCCS Unplugged!

GCCS Unplugged is the ‘unconference edition‘ of Diplohack, and is organised by Open State Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The Web We Want is supporting the event in partnership with them. It will take place on Friday April 17, 2015, from 9am to 7pm at the Worldhotel Bel Air, in The Hague, the Netherlands on the final day of the Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015. This collaborative and informal experience is perfect for you if you have good knowledge of the internet, online freedom, digital transparency, cyber security, start-ups, development through tech or other related topics that will shape the future of the net.

During this community-driven experience, you will come together with your fellow participants to share skills, learn what has worked, exchange ideas and practices, build plans and do some coding throughout the day. You will set the day’s agenda on the spot during the first session of this spontaneous and timely event. GCCS Unplugged will be an exceptionally productive day in which you define problems, develop plans, and create solutions.

You can register and suggest a session even before you start, here! But you can also take your time and suggest sessions and topics to discuss on the day of the event itself, it is completely flexible. We have listed already some suggested topics on a brainstorm page.

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Global Net Neutrality Coalition Launch

Countries around the world - from Chile to the Netherlands - have passed laws protecting the open internet. Many more are debating policies that would extend net neutrality protections to millions more people. As the internet continues to unite billions of people across national borders and time zones, it's crucial that every lawmaker understands what is at stake. That's why we're building an international coalition in support of the basic principles behind the open internet - and why we're urging policymakers everywhere to stand up for net neutrality. At the Web We Want Festival Opening Session we will be launching a Website which will serve as a hub for organizations, academics, and policymakers to learn more about the issue, discover what is being done locally and regionally, and connect to other Net Neutrality advocates.

Join us! 

11:05 to 11.15am
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre
Or via Live Streaming!

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III DiscoTech in Istanbul: Sharing Circumvention Tactics

On the eve of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, 1 September 2014, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech) and World Wide Web Foundation (Web Foundation) through our Web We Want initiative are hosting a peer-learning event on censorship and circumvention, problems and solutions for internet rights.

The IGF is a crucial meeting point for civil society. While the multi-stakeholder processes of the IGF itself will address the global state of internet at the policy level, civil society will act in parallel to protect human rights online from the bottom up. In light of the Turkey’s recent Twitter ban, the 2014 IGF is a particularly key event for discussing digital rights.

From elections to coups d’etat, blocking and censorship is being employed by an increasing number of states, institutions and companies with the complicity of corporate service providers, hardware manufacturers and software developers. As technical means to censor freedom of expression and information increase, so too does the proliferation of citizen-led solutions. Heavy-handed laws are met with determined resistance from civil society, through legal challenges, demands for change to policy and regulation, and adoption of technical solutions.

The internet is a global resource and an important enabler of human rights and development which should be managed in the public interest. From this perspective, the “Disco-tech” will encourage cross-regional networking among techies, human rights defenders and civil society advocates to share experiences and strategies for bypassing breaches to freedom of expression.

Therefore, the Web We Want is supporting an informal evening event designed to bridge gaps between user experiences, internet policy and technological solutions.  Attendees of Disco-tech Istanbul will be encouraged to follow up new learnings at a digital security “help desk” in the exhibition hall of the IGF.


  • Amie Stepanovich, Access
  • Ahmet A. Sabancı, Alternatif Bilişim
  • Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International
  • Mohammad Tarakiyee, Association for Progressive Communications
  • Fieke Jansen, Hivos
  • Mohamad Najem, Social Media Exchange
  • More speakers will be announced soon…

Event details

  • Venue: Sofa Hotel
  • Transport: walking distance from IGF venue; Osmanbey metro station
  • Attendance: Approx. 200 people
  • Food: Light snacks and drinks

About the organisers

APC is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world.

Tactical Tech is an organisation dedicated to the use of information in activism. They focus on the use of data, design and technology in campaigning through their Evidence & Action programme and on helping activists understand and manage their digital security and privacy risks through their Privacy & Expression programme.

World Wide Web Foundation was established by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and is devoted to achieving a world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely, building bridges across the divides that threaten our shared future.

Content by Mallory Knodel and Renata Avila

Picture under a Creative Commons License. by LASZLO ILYES Turkish deLIGHT  Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkey

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee In Conversation

25 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN, the large particle physics lab near Geneva. He then worked to ensure the code was made freely available, to everyone, forever.


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Bridging the technical and activist communities to build the Web We Want


Today, the Web We Want campaign, in collaboration with the Association for Progressive Communications, supported by the Ford Foundation, is delighted to announce the partners who will receive our latest round of five small grants.

This time, we’ve focused on projects that bridge activists and the technical community. Why? Because wonderful things can happen when two diverse communities that are committed to the public interest are connected. Today, we’re seeing sustained progress towards effective mechanisms for universal justice, social participation and human rights, often fuelled by the Web. However, the level of complexity of public interest issues is increasing, and the rapid adoption of technology across every aspect of our life is creating additional challenges. Many activist communities working on vital issues simply do not understand the impact of technology and the Web on their work, or lack the skills to make the best use of it. These grants - worth between $1500 and $5000 each - seek to change that, and to help new communities come together to build the Web We Want.  

Without further ado, our new Web We Want partners are:

APTI, Romania

In Romania, the not-for-profit APTI is already working as part of an engaged digital rights community. Now, taking advantage of momentum gained through collaborative working to oppose a Cyber Security Law, APTI will bridge the technical and activist communities by creating bold materials on key topics, and holding training workshops outside Bucharest.

The Calyx Institute, USA/Global

The Calyx Institute was founded by Nicholas Merrill, founder of the ISP Calyx Internet Access. Led by Merrill, Calyx is the only ISP to have successfully challenged and won a court case against the infamous "gag-order" National Security Letters in the US. These letters, which the US uses to demand user information from ISPs, are also accompanied by a life-long, open-ended gag order, preventing the ISP from ever disclosing the existence of the letter, or the information being requested. Calyx’s case, known as Doe vs Ashcroft, dragged on for six years, but eventually led to a partial lifting of the gag order in 2010, along the judicial invalidation or narrowing of several controversial surveillance provisions.

Using this grant, the Calyx Institute will build upon the knowledge gained through this process to spread its awareness of the dangers of secret court orders to on-the-ground activists, policy advisors, and anti-surveillance researchers. They’ll develop a set of good practices and share it with the community, starting at the Internet Governance Forum in November this year, and supported by online distribution.

European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRi), Pan European

Net neutrality is a hot topic at present - it is technically complex and often poorly understood. In Europe, the future of a neutral net hangs in the balance. EDRi’s project aims to connect the technology and activist communities to allow effective advocacy for an open internet. Following consultations with technical experts, EDRi will reach out to activists and policymakers to help them understand the  implications of a non-neutral net and how “fast lanes” might be harmful. EDRi will also seek to connect with European parliamentarians so they can understand how net neutrality technically works in practice.     

Nuvem Estacao de Arte e Tecnologia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This project seeks to challenge the way the poor connect to the Web, by creating a community mesh network in Fumaça (Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil) - a village of about 800 inhabitants, which currently has no fixed or cell phone communications. As well as facilitating access, our partners will develop a parallel program to educate the community about their rights and to drive the development and sharing of local content - file sharing across the community will be encouraged. The local primary school will be one of the main partners for the project, and so will the state agricultural agency. Our partners aim to break down barriers and connect diverse elements within the community. Local residents will also learn how to set up the network themselves.

Proyecto MartAdero and Red Libre Coronilla, Bolivia

This project seeks to help a neighborhood in Cochabamba, Bolivia, build and connect to the Web We Want. Through community consultations, workshops and celebrations, our partners will seek to encourage residents to share connectivity and create a web which is controlled and improved by the community, a Web respectful of privacy and freedom of expression. Technical experts will volunteering their time, and will work closely with cultural spaces to drive local content creation and sharing. The project builds upon the experiences of and            

Stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks - we’ll be providing more information on these new partners and their successes. And, later this week, we’ll be unveiling details of five African organisations selected to help popularise the African Declaration of Internet Rights.

Background: These grants were  reviewed and scored by the Web Foundation, APC and a relevant member of the Web We Want Steering Committee. The call was a tremendous success - we received over 100 applications...most of which were were excellent. Sadly, resources are only available for 5 of those projects. The is the latest round of our small grants programme, which has to date identified and empowered credible local groups and individuals through 50 grants, predominantly in developing countries.

Picture By: Belinda Lawley under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Licence. 


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We are announcing the Small Grants Next August 3

We were surprised (glad and overwhelmed) for the numerous applications to our Small Grants programme.

Our Steering Committee is evaluating those, in collaboration with APC and Web Foundation.

Apologies for any delay for your plans. We are working hard to deliver fair results on time. 







Government surveillance must be subject to stringent, transparent oversight

In this post, Renata Avila, Global Campaign Manager for the Web We Want initiative, calls for transparent and strict oversight of surveillance programmes.

In the past few weeks, we have witnessed  another wave of government surveillance revelations. From the NSA’s spying on official and commercial targets in Brazil to the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters unlawfully eavesdropping on Amnesty International, many are questioning whether any target is still off-limits.

And now, we’ve seen evidence that Italy-based private contractor Hacking Team has sold its spyware to governments known for repression and human rights abuses, including the likes of Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia and Sudan. It’s easy to imagine how this software, capable of breaking into citizens’ mobiles or computers and billed as a way to enhance policing and security efforts, could be misused to monitor, intimidate, and silence political opponents and regime critics.

We already know that similar surveillance technologies have been used to violate the rights of key members of our society, from human rights organisations to global leaders. While the revelations may come from different parts of the world, they are symptoms of the same phenomenon: increasingly powerful and unaccountable intelligence and law enforcement agencies, assisted by even less transparent private companies.

These events raise important questions about what measures governments need to adopt to ensure that surveillance efforts for law enforcement or national security are subject to strict and transparent oversight.

The NSA snooping on European officials, targeted surveillance against Amnesty International in the UK, and the deployment of hacking tools in several jurisdictions by companies like Hacking Team have nothing to do with security or law enforcement. These are all clear examples of illegal and illegitimate use of the power of technology to repress, control, or gain unethical advantage over opponents.

Bulk surveillance, conducted in secret, is never acceptable. We call on governments to undertake a full review of how surveillance powers are governed and used, and suspend such programmes immediately in cases where abuses of power are found. Furthermore, we call on governments to adopt clear and consistent regulations for companies that produce and export surveillance technology. For their part, surveillance tech companies should voluntarily disclose their client lists.

In the case of Hacking Team, we urge the Italian and EU authorities to call for an immediate and full investigation of the company’s activities. Furthermore, all national governments named as customers of Hacking Team must stop use of the software immediately, pending national investigations to determine how the technology has been used, and must provide sanction and redress where rights have been violated.

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A turning point for Internet rights in Africa?

Last week, the Web Foundation’s Africa Regional Coordinator Nnenna Nwakanma attended the seventh West African Internet Governance Forum. In this blog post, she offers her reflections on the Forum, its outcomes, key next steps, and the role the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms must play in building a Web We (all) Want in Africa. 

Last week’s West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) has the potential to be a watershed moment for Internet rights on the continent. Why? This was the first such African gathering I can recall that went beyond civil society groups talking to each other. Instead, WAIGF truly incorporated governments, international organisations and regional groupings. ECOWAS took on a meaningful role by hosting the Forum – a significant development. As a result of these strong foundations, the Forum produced a detailed communique – one which commits member states to action on Internet rights.

But it’s not time to celebrate. A long road lies ahead if we are to build a Web that truly transforms the day to day lives of ordinary Africans. After the talk, now it’s time for action through collaboration between civil society, governments, international organisations and the private sector — both in West Africa and across the continent.

Here are three of the areas addressed in the communique where urgent attention must be paid.

Affordable access

The Web offers great potential for socio-economic development, and we’re excited about the prospects. But we mustn’t forget that this only holds true for those who are connected to it.

We are used to the media buzz about “Africa Rising”. But 34 out of the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries are still in Africa. Worldwide 60% of people are still not online, and a large number of these live on our continent.

We are still a long way off from the Broadband Commission’s cost target of 5% of annual household income. According to the International Telecoms Union (ITU), at the end of 2013, the average price for an entry-level fixed broadband connection in the developing world represented more than a quarter of an average citizen’s monthly income. This year’s Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Affordability Report showed that these high prices hit women, rural populations, and those living on less than $2 per day hardest.

So yes, Africa is rising — but for not for everyone.

As well as innovative technical solutions, the regulatory environment needs to foster competition for low prices and governments must invest in open access infrastructure to improve affordability. For example, we need to encourage countries like Malawi, currently considering a tax on broadband that would limit access for students and low to middle income users, to see the benefits of a free, open Web and abandon this tax.

The good news is, we’ve seen some great progress. Ghana has recently scrapped a 20% import duty on smartphones, meaning more users will be able to afford a handset that can get them online. And three African countries — Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique — demonstrated leadership by being the first to join A4AI, a coalition pushing for policy reforms that will make fast, reliable Internet affordable and accessible to all.

Freedom of speech and right to information online

The World Wide Web is transformational because it gives everyone  a voice and access to information. It has the potential to help address the inequalities that plague our continent. We — the participants at the WAIGF — all believe this, or else we wouldn’t have attended the discussion.

But we need to be honest with ourselves too. We need to admit that even if we built the best infrastructure and achieved high Internet access rates, there can be no progress without a fundamental commitment to rights such as Freedom of Speech and Access to Information.

If we look around our neighbourhood, we’ll find that actually this is an area where some might say Africa is backsliding.

Gambia, a member of the WAIGF, has not submitted any reports on the implementation of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights to the African Union for 20 years. How can we believe this nation will implement any of the commitments in the communiques from the WAIGF? Or the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, once finalised and ratified?

And it is not just in the West African region that we see cause for concern. South Africa has tabled wide-reaching and vaguely worded reforms that could require everyone to have pre-approval before publishing online — a move that South African coalition Right 2 Know has said essentially proposes pre-publication censorship. As one of the major engines of growth on the continent, South Africa must lead the way by flourishing as a free and open society.

Surveillance and online privacy

Citizens’ privacy and data online is under threat — not just on our continent but worldwide. Some governments, often under the banner of counter-terrorism efforts, are increasing censorship and surveillance and taking our online freedoms away. While this might seem reasonable on the surface, it opens the door to abuse of these powers, allowing governments the temptation to access more information than is reasonable or appropriate, and forcing Web users to change their behaviour.

The WAIGF communique calls on governments to be more open about their surveillance and privacy policies, ensuring that civil society and the private sector are included in decisions that affect citizens and customers of online services.

For much of our continent, this is uncharted territory. We’re still struggling to get the majority of our citizens online in the first place. However, this isn’t a reason to ignore these concerns. Governments are making laws and regulations now, so we must be vigilant and participate in that process. We have an opportunity to get privacy regulation right from the outset, rather than being forced to rewrite unsuitable regulation in future — a situation faced by the developed world now.

Last year, the AU adopted a Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection that would establish a legal framework for developing regulation in this area. Several other bills are mushrooming at national levels. The question that needs to be asked is whether we are doing this in a consultative multi-stakeholder way and whether such legal instruments are flexible enough to adapt to the fast-changing digital landscape.  For me, legislating in this space should not be a one-off thing, but a continued engagement to balance rights with responsibilities.


As we’re taking two steps forward, often we are taking one step back. We have an opportunity to address these challenges in a holistic way as Africa advances and learn from the experiences of others. We can draw on positive examples from others like the Marco Civil da Internet from Brazil.

We must continue to work together for a fair, free and open Web and we encourage individuals and organisations to sign the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms to ensure Africa has the chance to realise the full benefits of the Web for continued growth and prosperity. ECOWAS has engaged; here is looking forward to the engagement of the other sub-regional blocks.