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:
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 Guifi.net and Altermundi.net.
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.