This report is the third in a series that examines public attitudes and preferences about Internet censorship and regulation in states in which media and Internet use are subject to increasing restrictions.
The role of the Internet as a fundamental tool for communication and empowerment is one that should not be inhibited as the limitless nature of the medium allows for a broader, unfiltered, and more democratic exchange of information. These features become increasingly important in conditions where the mainstream media are unwilling or unable to provide the public with the information necessary to function as democratic citizens and maintain political accountability. Though an open Internet tends to be valued by more democratic governments, the percentage of countries adhering to the standards of open and free media is dismally low. In a majority of countries, governments maintain a stringent level of control over many of the mainstream information outlets, making the Internet a vital source of alternative information for the people living within these environments.
Internet Policy Formation in Latin America: Understanding the Links Between the National, the Regional, and the Global
Until recently, internet governance was a relatively obscure topic in most technology policy agendas in Latin America. But in mid-2013, revelations about widespread surveillance of internet communications dramatically transformed conversations about the issue. The work addresses the institutional consolidation of emerging experiences in national contexts to address internet governance and policy as well as their effectiveness in shaping regional and global processes. This paper takes a comparative approach, by looking at several national cases; the experience of Argentine Commission for Internet Policy (CAPI) created in 2014; Costa Rica with the Internet Consulting Committee (in 2012) and Mexico with the Initiative Group (2012). These cases were examined against the backdrop of the well documented Brazilian experience and its Internet Steering Committee (CGI)( 2005). The research analysed the national internet governance mechanisms in the early stages of the institutionalization process, looking at the main developments that have shaped actors’ strategies as well as the evolution of internet regulations in these countries. The three cases differ in both the degree of formality, working mechanisms and stakeholder representation in these new bodies. In each national context, it is clear that governments are now working to formalize policymaking arrangements, as the original informal coordination mechanisms that gave rise to the internet in these countries are no longer sufficient. The bridges between the international and the domestic field will tend to rely on more formally institutionalized spaces as states become more involved with the issue.
This reflection on the report “Benchmarking Public Demand for Internet Freedom: Russia’s Appetite for Internet Control,” seeks to argue that protecting internet freedom is not possible without a shift in public opinion. Using Russian examples, Asmolov suggests that public opinion concerning internet regulation is a function of whether the online communications environment is perceived as dangerous–giving officials a chance to play an instrumental role in fostering a sense of peril online and fomenting an “internet as threat” narrative in the minds of the public.