Opening Spaces for Digital Rights Activism: Multilateral Trade Negotiations

Trade agreements today are the main source of rule-making at the global level, encompassing an expansive list of issues. These agreements cover a wide array of subjects that extend far beyond traditional trade matters. In the past, they have been effective tools for dominant industries to dilute or eliminate domestic policies and priorities, minimize regulatory costs, and maximize corporate interests. In most cases, trade agreements set constraints on domestic regulations, override regulatory safeguards, challenge domestic consumer protections, and weaken the leverage of local producers.

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Digital Media and the Promotion of Deliberative Debate in Cuba

This report aims to examine digital independent media projects in Cuba within the broader media ecosystem in which they operate. More specifically, it looks at the context in which some journalists become disengaged from the Cuban institutional media system and decide to create independent spaces for debate and deliberation online. However, this research also complicates the commonly believed notion that these alternative digital publications naturally catalyze debate that is both critical and oppositional. The report draws on previous literature, digital debates on political ‘centrism’ in Cuba and in-depth interviews with Cuban journalists in order to assess the way in which an intellectual elite claims a disenfranchisement of politics from the state. This report is part of the Internet Policy Observatory’s Research For Impact series, and is included within a wider project that seeks to produce content aimed at a variety of audiences. On the academic side, the author has submitted a corresponding paper for peer review that examines the impact of the Internet and digital technologies on (1) journalistic discourses, (2) journalist’s in-group and out-group interactions and (3) larger media structures in Cuba. On the journalistic side, it is published in parallel to the dossier “Sobre Internet in Cuba” , produced by the independent magazine Periodismo de Barrio. For more details about this work, please email garcias.sara@gmail.com

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Zero Rating, Net Neutrality, and Understanding the Chilean Regulation

The Chilean net neutrality regulation is one of the first national legislative efforts to recognize the principle of preventing arbitrary discrimination of Internet traffic. One of the main challenges in interpreting and implementing this law within Chile has been the regular practice of zero-rating, in which certain telecommunications providers prioritize certain applications through free data. Although this practice was initially characterized as a breach of net neutrality by the regulatory body (the Subsecretariat of Telecommunications (Subtel)), zero-rating is still practiced by mobile telephone companies as part of their subscription offers. This white paper summarizes the research and findings of a larger academic project that seeks to analyze both the legal status of zero-rating in Chile and the evolution of the Subtel criteria, which has led to the proliferation of this practice in the country. To read the English version of the report, click here.

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Using Research in Digital Rights Advocacy: Understanding the Research Needs of the Internet Freedom Community

The importance of research within digital rights advocacy cannot be understated. Whether your objective is to persuade policymakers, communicate with companies, educate journalists, convince funders, or influence public opinion, you need accurate and systematically collected information. All advocacy organizations engage in research even if they don’t realize it—advocates are identifying a problem, strategically analyzing causes and effects, seeking potential solutions through information gathering, and communicating this information in a compelling way with core stakeholders. While most organizations have some capacity for research, many organizations do not have the time, funding, or expertise to understand how to deploy the best, most robust, and most convincing research methods to fuel data-driven advocacy. This is especially true for digital rights-related activism, where methods for studying the effects of internet policies, internet user behavior, and corporate decision-making online are often highly technical.

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