The following is an interview with Renata Avila, Global Campaign Manager of Web We Want, a global initiative of the World Wide Web Foundation to help people everywhere shape the future of the Web.
Renata (@avilarenata) is a human rights lawyer from Guatemala who works with multiple communities fighting for digital freedoms.
Q: What do you consider Web We Want’s biggest accomplishments in 2015?
Renata: It was definitely the expansion of our membership. We now count 125 organisations across the globe as members of our community. Once we begin working together in earnest, I believe there will be a domino effect of positive things happening.
We also solidified relations with existing partners this year, not least through our grants programme, through which we support an active community of do-ers in the global North and South.
Speaking of partnerships, this year’s collaboration with Association for Progressive Communications (APC) was especially productive and exciting. We closed the year announcing a long term work plan with Consumers International, bringing the worldwide perspectives of consumer rights to our work.
We are a smaller project within the framework of the World Wide Web Foundation and I believe our focus on digital rights activism and grassroots collaboration is really important accomplishing our long term goals.
Q: What are the main goals for Web We Want in 2016?
A: We want to enable more voices on digital rights by explaining the issues (and what can be done) in simple terms, as we are doing with our newly launched newsletter.
In the new year, we’re also going to be making our materials and communications available in Spanish, Arabic, French, Portuguese and English.
There will be at least two international calls for grant applications for coordinated actions in 2016.
In general, we want local strategies for change to be copied and implemented elsewhere. The stories in our cookbook series, Recipes for a Digital Revolution, are examples of the kind of South to South collaboration we hope to promote. If you can “cook it” in one country, you can probably cook it somewhere else too.
Q: What are the things that worry you most about the Web right now?
A: Without a doubt, militarisation of the Internet. In other words, how state of emergency and national security concerns are being used as excuses to destroy our most fundamental rights online, and how people accept exceptions to privacy online, which we would never ever allow offline.
Would you give the keys of your house to police so they can enter whenever they want, even when you are sleeping? That is basically what is happening worldwide, with all the digital backdoors that governments and companies are prying open.
Q: Did anything that happened in 2015 really surprise you?
A: I thought Max Schrems’ victory in the European Court of Justice in October over the “Safe Harbour Pact” for data transfers between Europe and the United States was astounding.
Q: What gives you hope for the future of the Web?
A: I love the possibilities for action across borders to advance human rights, and also how the Internet is being used to uphold social justice and demand accountability like never before. I am hopeful that global solidarity between people is growing. And I am hopeful about the activism for digital rights we see, even in some of the most hopeless contexts; that people fight and demand to be heard where others have simply given up.