Internet advocacy has been credited with recent successful campaigns. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two copyright enforcement bills, were defeated in the US, online organizing led to large-scale street protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Europe, and online organizing has helped drive the current Network Neutrality debate to a record level of FCC comments. Scholars differ on efficacy of digitally mediated engagement from affordances of decentralized personal action to dismissing online action as cheap “slacktivism.” However, focusing only on easily visible online advocacy misses the critical contributions of institutional advocacy in achieving democratic change. This talk moves beyond an online-only assumption of political action and demonstrates how institutional advocacy such as gaining access to government bodies, lobbying, and targeting decisions maker provides a critical compliment for public advocacy such as mobilization and online advocacy. Building from case studies of internet policy activism this talk offers a more nuanced understanding of how the internet and activism drives change.
James Losey has five years experience in public policy and over ten years researching the intersection of information, technology and power. He is currently a PhD candidate with the School of International Studies and the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University in Sweden working on a dissertation focused on the tensions between states and internet companies and the relationship to national sovereignty, citizenship and the flow of information. Additionally, he is an affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication. Previously, James has been a Google Policy Fellow with the Global Network Initiative and a Consortium on Media Policy Studies fellow.