Source: ALBA Movements / The Dawn News / October 5, 2017
The “Dialogue for a Civic Internet:Our America in the Path to the Social Internet Forum” encounter concluded on September 29, with a plenary where the debates and agreements according to three discusion axis: 1) knowledge; 2) WTO, electronic commerce, work and territory; 3) democracy, security and State. During the previous 2 days, the participants constructed proposals for the region and for the Social Internet Forum, to be celebrated in India on 2018.
The knowledge axis, which handled themes like education, culture, communication, access, free software, started with the presentation of the problems of the sub themes. Within the education theme, the most preoccupying matters are the lack of criticality surrounding technology, a pedagogy created around privative tools and the invisibilization of education as a human right. For that, several proposals were proposed, the most outstanding being the creation of platforms to spread initiatives and to thrust citizen debate; and, above all, the promotion of a critic education that uses free technologies.
The sub group of Means, Access and Diversity highlighted the importance of considering the internet service as a service of public interest. And that from public administration, policies to secure universal access to internet must be guarantee. It was highlighted that is necessary to foment a dialogue process external to the digital sceneries, to reach people that don’t have access to them. Also, it was recommended to the citizenship to become more familiar with free software, media and networks. it was commented that private spaces may still be used, but that these should be used to spread alternative initiatives, new speeches different to the traditional ones. It was also highlighted the importance of activism outside the network, in the streets, since in that context is where real incidence is generated.
Finally, the conclusions on the sub group of Intellectual Property, Free Culture and Free Software were presented, and the importance of the use of free software and tools was the main theme. The discussion was centered in the importance of formation of people and social movements in public policies and to know how legislations work in each country. Also, it was recommended the necessity to create observatories to monitor the implementation of policies regarding intellectual property. It was also mentioned that all this need to be supported by a process of legal reforms in each country.
At the closure, there was a dialogue on the importance of having an active participation as citizens, while denouncing absurd cases and the lack of knowledge democratization. Finally, the creation of campaigns that boost the appropriation of free technology and culture was thrusted.
World Trade Organization and Electronic Commerce
The second axis centered its work on the WTO, Electronic commerce, work and territory. It precised as the main proposal the intention to develop agendas in order to stop the aperture of negotiations on electronic commerce in the World Trade Organization (WTO), since developed countries pretend to impose their agenda of free trade and global data control (the new input that generates value in economy) through the apparently innocuous term of “electronic commerce”. According to the proposals realized by developed countries which thrust the initiative at the WTO, this negotiation would favour the big transnational companies and would mean a greater technological, commercial and economic dependence for our countries: no fee to electronic commerce, no technological transfer, open frontiers for the free mobility of data without regulating its use, no defense courts for consumers and no presence of the company in the country, etc.
At the same time, the importance of developing a strategy of technological cooperation and sovereignty between the governments of Latin America and of the Southern Hemisphere was raised, taking into account the implementation and creation of independent platforms and the regulation and promotion of electronic commerce for the benefit of the Popular and Solidary Economy and for our SMEs.
The actions that were proposed for the achievement of this proposal include sensibilization of the public, participation in the popular movements that will happen due to the ministerial reunion of the WTO in Buenos Aires in December, and dialogues with the competent government institutions.
Finally, regarding the labour, agriculture, environment and city themes, the proposals communicated include a platform of citizen information through internetciudada.net; sensibilizing about the impact of digital technologies and artificial intelligence on the different sectors; warning about proposals like geoengineering, green and genomic economy and its empowerment with digital technologies; exchange thrusting, flow of information and analysis on the impact of the technological changes in the labour field (job insecurity), in agriculture, environment, cities, etc.
Democracy, Security and State
From the democracy, security and State axis, massive surveillance was discussed, equally from the State as for corporate surveillance. So, the necessity to apply measures in order to guarantee protection and a clear regulation was explained.
The discussion was realized around the necessity of having a true sovereignty through the infrastructure of each country, as the only way to break with the technological dependence.
The group highlighted the necessity of making public the implications of the use of privative technology: what is being accepted when programs that are not free are being used.
The creation of campaigns, pedagogical and dissemination material to conscientize on the impact that date usage has in democracy was proposed.
A dialogue was open on the necessity to thrust public policies in favour of privacy and encryption in every State. But above all, to conscientize on the management of Free Software.
It was also highlighted the importance of the citizen role in the dissemination of information on the use and free circulation of data and its transcendency at a safety level. For that, the axis was mainly emphasized in the promotion of data legislations and its debate in public spaces to guarantee privacy. In this sense, it was commented that safety must be considered as a social good and not as a merch. It was affirmed that this is the way to consolidate this concept and to strengthen it.
The plenary concluded with proposals for monitoring, including mechanisms to deepen the exchange, the proposal of an activity made by Civic Internet during the World Social Forum to be hosted in Bahía in March 2018, and the participation in the Social Internet Forum in India, foreseen for 2018 as well.
Two transversal themes standed out: human rights and the necessity of data protection laws. And for the agenda of the next months: the sensibilization campaign and the mobilizations regarding the WTO forum and electronic commerce; the thrust of digital rights proposals for the Binding Agreement on Transnational Companies and Human Rights, which will be negotiated on October at the Human Rights Council of the UN; the participation in the global campaign against murderous robots and cyber weapons. Near the end, the proposal to build an universal and contemporaneous statement for the access, use and development of Internet was formulated.