As part of our introductory guide to internet governance, Andreas Karsten introduces key organisations and bodies working on the internet, communications and governance, including their overarching aims and where you can find more information. Organisations covered include the United Nations, Council of Europe, UNESCO, and civil society. In this article, Andreas introduces the work of civil society on internet governance.
On the civil society level, there are various actors and activities that center around questions of internet governance and freedom. It is a challenge to define comprehensively this field, here are a few prominent and globally active civil society organisations, groups and initiatives to get you started. You can find out more about the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and internet governance in this article.
- the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends freedom in the networked world. The foundation works on issues such as free speech, intellectual property, privacy and transparency;
- the Internet Society (ISOC) is one of the leading nonprofit organisations on internet related standards, education and policy;
- the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organisation for the web;
- the Internet Governance Caucus of Civil Society Organizations (IGC) strives for internet governance to become inclusive, people-centered and development oriented;
- Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. They publish also reports on internet freedom, such as their new report Freedom on the Net 2013 explores worldwide trends and the role of activists in raising awareness of emerging threats.
- the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRP) is an initiative formed to establish an Internet Governance regime founded upon human rights. It has e.g. developed a Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet;
- La Quadrature du Net is a collective and advocacy group promoting the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet. The group starts from the assumption that internet neutrality means that the internet has no gatekeeper;
- Reporters Without Borders (RWB) advocates and fights for the freedom of the press, on- and offline;
- the Open Rights Group (ORG) aims to preserve and promote citizens’ rights in the digital age;
- the Creative Commons Network works towards the vision of universal access to research and education and full participation;
- the European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRI) was founded to defend civil rights in the information society and working, among other issues, on privacy, governance and freedom of speech;
- the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person. Among many issues, it also focuses on surveillance and privacy and e.g. publishes the so called Spy Files to uncover secret surveillance networks.
- the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) is a foundation working to reopen the discussion about how free speech is defined and how it is to be protected for and in the digital age;
- LeakDirectory is an official and community based internet sites that actively support whistle blowing or leaks about various topics;
- WikiLeaks is maybe the most famous leak website. It aims to bring important news and information to the public by providing an anonymous way for sources to leak information to journalists;
- Privacy International is committed to fighting for the right to privacy across the world. The organisation investigates government surveillance and advocates for strong national, regional, and international laws that protect privacy;
- Access defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world by combining innovative policy, user engagement, and direct technical support.
Feel free to add organisations, groups and initiatives in the comments!
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