Power Check: Protecting the digital commons
10 July 2012
This think piece by Kelly O'Neill, independent researcher and co-founder of Wired Woman Toronto, reflects on the evolution of ICT as a tool to monitor, report and critique corporate and state behaviour.
It also examines the problematic connections between ICT companies and countries seeking to control their citizens, and the implications for a robust public sphere both online and offline. The International Telecommunications Union estimates that now one-third of the world’s 7 billion people are online and that 17 per cent are mobile web users. The Internet is of increasing importance in the lives of youth, with 45 per cent of global users under 25. How Internet governance develops nationally and internationally will impact profoundly the online freedom of assembly and speech of people everywhere.
Digital Activism Then and Now
In May 1998, the World Trade Organization (WTO) held its Second Ministerial Conference in Geneva, an occasion that also marked 50 years since the founding of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The event, however, would be remembered for an anti-globalization demonstration by ten thousand people from all over the world – the first of a series of such demonstrations. My exploration of the role new Internet-enabled communication played in the protest’s organization led to an UNRISD Discussion Paper, Internetworking for Social Change: Keeping the Spotlight on Corporate Responsibility. Here I reflect on the evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) as a tool to monitor, report and critique corporate and state behavior. Further, the viewpoint also examines the problematic connections between ICT companies and countries seeking to control their citizens, and the implications for a robust public sphere both online and offline.
To read the entire column, click here