Human Rights Video and the Open Internet – September 2014 Tech News Digest
This post is the beginning of a monthly series on technology and human rights in the news, written by our technology advocacy team.
This month, we look at net neutrality, an issue that has riled up everyone from late-night comedian John Oliver to ‘publisher’ Larry Flynt. This past weekend saw an exciting development that WITNESS is glad to be a part of, as a new global coalition of civil society organizations was launched at the Web We Want Festival in London.
Needless to say, the open Internet has become a powerful tool for what we do at WITNESS, and that’s true for so many of the people we work with around the world. We are hopeful that combining our voice with other civil society groups as part of the Global Net Neutrality Coalition will help bring concrete steps toward protecting openness online. We are also fighting to make sure that net neutrality remains a global issue that is not solely focused on the US and Europe (where most of the heat on this issue has come from) and includes places that are just now starting to come online.
Beyond the announcement of this new effort, the month of September saw a lot of coverage on Net Neutrality, and we’ve compiled a few of our favorite pieces below for this month’s tech reading list. Enjoy!
- To start, Newsweek looked at the (very few) instances of policy protections being implemented in other parts of the world. Most of the Net Neutrality conversation focuses on what the US Congress and Federal Communications Commission will say on the issue, but Latin America and Europe are actually leading the way at the moment, and billions more people will be affected by decisions in Asia and Africa in the coming years.
- The Wall Street Journal covered the rise of ‘zero-rating’, which are partnerships between service providers and internet platforms to offer subsidized access to certain sites. The plans are especially targeted at the developing world and poorer customers, so people are getting a cheap way to use Facebook and the like, but that’s a far cry from having access to an open web. Zero-rating introduces people to the internet as a limited and private space rather than the ‘information superhighway’ that it represents in its ideal state.
- GigaOm was at the Web We Want Festival and rightly focused on one of the big questions for the event: will civil society be able to appeal to a broader audience and build an inclusive movement for Internet freedom and better governance?
- A big question within the discussions about openness is the impact of video and the demands on bandwidth it brings, and a number of video-focused companies joined the Internet Slowdown on September 10th to help ensure that videos won’t be relegated to a back seat online. Video platform Vimeo added their voice with this short and snappy PSA.