APC network’s triennial face-to-face meeting in South Africa

“We are like a tree, with our members and network being branches that give off this fruit which seeds and grows new trees in the community.” (Mentioned during group work)

Getting all of APC’s members together is an opportunity to celebrate the work that has been done and strategise around the work still ahead. After APC’s last member meeting in Barcelona, Spain, in 2014, the APC network met again from 18 to 21 August in Ithala, South Africa, gathering 34 of APC’s 55 member organisations, as well as one individual member.

On 18 August, the first day of the member meeting, the participants joined together to discuss APC’s direction as a community, framed within APC’s strategic plan for 2016-2019, and our identity. The highlight of the second day of the meeting was when APC members and APC staff shared information about their projects and activities in what was called the “Museum of Moments”, while the third day featured sessions on networking and capacity building. The fourth and last day was the APC Council business day, when the APC Board of Directors and Executive Director Chat Garcia Ramilo reported back on different issues, including an overview of the implementation of the strategic plan to date, a discussion of APC policies, an overview of APC finances for the period 2014-2016, and reports on membership, grants and participation and collaboration.

During this four-day gathering, a total of 70 APC members and staff reviewed, discussed and renewed their commitment to APC’s theory of change and strategic priorities that guide our work through 2019.

Before and after this global member meeting, 11 smaller member meetings were organised alongside events attended by APC members, among them the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, RightsCon in Brussels, the Summit on Community Networks in Nairobi, the WSIS Forum in Geneva, the Stockholm Internet Forum in Stockholm, the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa in Johannesburg, the COCONET Southeast Asia Digital Rights Camp in Yogjakarta, the Asia-Pacific Regional IGF in Bangkok, the Latin American and Caribbean IGF in Panama City, and the Nonprofit Software Development Summit in San Francisco. A brief meeting was also organised during the global IGF in Geneva. In addition, a meeting of five European members was held in January 2017 through support from APC’s Member Exchange and Travel Fund, alongside the eSociety.mk conference in Macedonia. This represents a significantly higher number of member gatherings than in previous years.

To watch out for: APC will host regional member meetings in 2018 that will strengthen and bring together our members around the crucial priorities in every region. Stay tuned as well for a new strategy and membership criteria to be completed in 2018.

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APC members engaged in network-wide initiatives and member collaborations

As in previous years, APC had active member involvement and collaboration in developing and implementing APC’s Theory of Change and strategic plan, with initiatives that contributed to building and strengthening cross-movement networks across the wider APC community and broader civil society engaged in internet policy, practice and development.

In 2017, APC partnered with members on organising several events, such as the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) 2017 (together with CIPESA from Uganda), the COCONET Southeast Asia Digital Rights Camp (together with EngageMedia from Indonesia) and the Digital Citizen Summit (together with Digital Empowerment Foundation from India).

APC also coordinated member participation in a number of large international forums, including the Internet Freedom Festival, Stockholm Internet Forum, RightsCon, WSIS Forum, and regional and global IGFs.

In relation to APC’s strategic area of work on access, two members were involved in the Local Access Networks project, Colnodo from Colombia and AlterMundi from Argentina, with Mexico-based member organisation Rhizomatica as one of the partners in the implementation of the project.

In the rights field, APC supported submissions by EMPOWER, Colnodo and One World Platform to the thematic report on online gender-based violence by the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

Together with its members, APC engaged in the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, Human Rights Council processes, Universal Periodic Reviews, Human Rights Committee reviews, submissions to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICANN, the UN Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, the preparation of regional and global Internet Governance Forums and others.

To name just a few specific collaborations during the global IGF, Point of View from India and EMPOWER from Malaysia participated in the Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access, and Point of View and Foundation for Media Alternatives representatives were active members of the Gender Dynamic Coalition.

Specifically with Chilean member Derechos Digitales, APC participated in the Internet Is Ours Coalition.

APC also organised two capacity-building workshops for members and partners on engaging with regional and international human rights mechanisms.

In the strategic area of making a feminist internet, 17 members engaged in the 2017 Take Back the Tech! campaign, and a representative from APC member Derechos Digitales participated in the Making a Feminist Internet meeting in October 2017 in Malaysia.

In relation to governance, two APC members were involved in the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG), and APC supported the participation of feminist activists in panels at FIFAFrica 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa, while 26 members participated in the 2017 Global Information Society Watch edition.

Finally, 14 APC members joined the Alternative Infrastructure Initiative, which was jointly initiated in 2017 by Riseup, Aspiration Tech and APC.

To watch out for: We expect collaboration within APC to continue flourishing in 2018. The next round of APC subgrant support will specifically focus on collaborative projects in which several members are involved. Face-to-face planning during the five regional meetings to be held in 2018 will boost collaboration on the regional level, and some of APC’s key initiatives that promote member collaboration will continue in 2018 (GISWatch, the Local Access Networks project, the Take Back the Tech! campaign, collaboration in the area of sustainable technologies and others).

Image: Digital Citizen Summit organised by APC member Digital Empowerment Foundation from India.

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APC members receive highest ever support towards the implementation of our Theory of Change

Channelling resources to our network members has been a priority for APC since its inception. APC has done this in different ways, ranging from the Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report to the Take Back the Tech! campaign, as well as Member Exchange and Travel Fund grants. In 2016, APC launched additional grants with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) aimed specifically at enabling members to contribute to achieving the impact objectives identified in APC’s Theory of Change for the period of 2016-2019.

The research and campaign grants support local campaigns that contribute to members’ advocacy work and are also meant to enable members to participate in APC-wide campaigns. To read more about the research and campaign grants in 2017 follow this link.

The grants for local implementation of APC’s strategic plan are for projects that contribute to the implementation of APC’s strategic priorities at the national level, and to strengthen ongoing work of APC members that is linked to APC’s strategic priorities. To read more about local implementation of APC’s strategic plan grants in 2017 follow this link.

During 2017, 19 APC members in 17 countries received 21 research, advocacy and project grants towards the implementation of APC’s strategic plan, with a total of USD 273,986 disbursed. In addition, APC provided support for members to participate in key events through 29 travel grants.

This level of member support is the highest ever provided by APC, and members have indicated that these grants have contributed to their work and capacity, as well as contributing to APC’s strategic priorities.

To watch out for: A new call for member grants will take place in 2018, and more members will receive financial support to carry out activities that will bring us ever closer to achieving APC’s strategic plan.

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Greater outreach to APC’s community

Our main website, APC.org, which we redesigned to better reflect our organisational structure, strategy and overall goals, had 564,297 unique visitors and 964,083 visits during 2017. The highest peak happened between October and November, coinciding with the preparations and celebration of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), the UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators consultation and the publication of our previous Annual Report.

APC was cited by the media 150 times in 25 different countries and in seven languages (Spanish, French, English, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese and Japanese) and by 36 academic references. A prolific content partnership with Rising Voices increased the outreach of stories coming from APC members to a broader community of activists.

On social media, APC had a considerably more consistent Facebook presence than the year before, surpassing 6,000 followers by the end of 2017, which means 850 new followers were gained. Our main Twitter account, @apc_news, had 8,200 followers in English versus 6,120 followers the previous year, which amounts to 2,080 new followers gained in 2017. The highest peaks coincided with the IGF 2017, the launch of a global survey on sexual rights and the internet, and the UNESCO consultation on Internet Universality Indicators.

Our flagship Twitter account on campaigning for women’s rights online, @Takebackthetech, had 6,188 followers at end of 2017, which reflects 1,191 new followers gained over the course of the year, with the highest peak coinciding with the “Distributed Denial of Women”, an online strike of women working in tech.

APC reached its 270th newsletter, with a total of 13 editions of APCNews sent in 2017 (in English and Spanish). GenderIT.org launched four special editions of its newsletter, including one highlighting the findings of the EROTICS research – carried out in three countries in South Asia – and the EROTICS global survey of sexuality and internet activists. APC also launched a new thematic newsletter focusing on community networks, with the first edition sent in December 2017.

To watch out for: A communications welcome kit dedicated to our network members, especially new organisational and individual members who need to know how to easily navigate APC online spaces, will be produced in 2018. Also stay tuned for a trilingual newsletter featuring a mash-up of our content in different languages.

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Inside the Information Society: Two years now, evolving with the internet

Looking back or looking forward? was the title of the first piece in David Souter’s column on APC.org, Inside the Information Society, published more than two years ago. Inspired by this question, the blog has continued to feature articles – 28 in total in 2017 – on issues ranging from internet governance and sustainable development to workers’ rights, trade, post-conflict reconstruction, community networks, the role of intermediaries in promoting rights, the internet of things, the future of the IGF, privacy in the context of Facebook’s leaks… all with a cross-cutting human rights and ICTs approach.

“Five years ago, my daily newspaper might have carried one or two stories or features on the Information Society that were relevant each day. Now there’ll probably be at least five or six, sometimes ten,” Souter wrote in his 2017 piece “What’s next?”, also mentioning the change in tone: “There’s more skepticism about the Information Society now than there was five years ago; more uncertainty; more anxiety. People are as concerned now about what might go wrong (in their eyes) as they’re excited by what might go right.”

For two years now, the Inside the Information Society column has been asking about what’s happening in this rapidly changing environment, and questioning the assumptions that underpin our thinking, with the aim of encouraging debate. Souter’s pieces take a fresh look at issues that concern APC, its members, and the wider ICT community, which in 2017 included the entries available here.

To watch out for: In 2018, the Inside the Information Society column will continue raising issues that concern APC and its members and provoking debate.

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Record growth of the APC network

The APC network keeps growing! At the end of 2017, APC had 58 organisational members working in 61 countries, compared to 51 members in 60 countries in 2016, while the individual membership stayed at 28 members.

Nine new organisational members and two new individual members joined the APC network in 2017. This represents a record growth in one year, and reflects an increasing interest in APC membership.A highly engaged network participated in specific projects and in network-wide activities, implemented collaborations, provided input to policy advocacy processes, and took part in global and regional convenings and in capacity-building initiatives that contributed to the implementation of APC’s strategic priorities.

To watch out for: APC will hold its biennial regional member meetings in 2018, and organise several smaller member meetings at major events attended by the APC community.

Image: Conversation during the 2017 APC member meeting in South Africa, as captured by Arturo Bregaglio.

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A newly elected Board of Directors for the period 2017-2019

On 21 August 2017, 39 APC Council members cast their votes during the APC Member Meeting in Ithala, South Africa, and elected a new Board of Directors for the next three years. The composition of APC’s new Board of Directors is the following: Bishakha Datta, Point of View, India (chair); Leandro Navarro, Associació Pangea – Coordinadora Comunicació per a la Cooperació, Catalonia (vice-chair); Liz Probert, GreenNet, United Kingdom (secretary); Sylvie Siyam, PROTEGE QV, Cameroon (treasurer); Michel Lambert, Alternatives, Canada; Julián Casabuenas G., Colnodo, Colombia; Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation, India; and Chat Garcia Ramilo, APC, Philippines (executive director).

APC is proud to have a board with gender balance and representatives from all regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America). A balance was also achieved in terms of continuity, with three board members from the previous board retaining their positions (Julián Casasbuenas G., Liz Probert and Osama Manzar). The new board brings together wisdom, experience, freshness and enthusiasm to steer APC through the new phase that lies ahead.

The APC Board of Directors for the previous period (2014-2017) was comprised of: Julián Casabuenas G., Colnodo, Colombia (chair); Valentina Pellizzer, One World Platform, Bosnia and Herzegovina (vice-chair); Liz Probert, GreenNet, United Kingdom (secretary); Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation, India (treasurer); Anriette Esterhuysen, South Africa (executive director until April 2017); Chat Garcia Ramilo, Philippines (executive director after April 2017); Chim Manavy, Open Institute, Cambodia; John Dada, Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria; and Lillian Nalwoga, CIPESA, Uganda. APC thanks the outgoing board members and acknowledges their efforts and excellent contributions towards strengthening the network during their tenure. You can learn more about the roles and responsibilities of APC’s Board and find out more about APC governance.

Image: Members of APC’s new Board of Directors, from left to right: Osama Manzar, Julián Casabuenas G., Liz Probert, Sylvie Siyam, Michel Lambert, Bishakha Datta, Chat Garcia Ramilo and Leandro Navarro.

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Pangea has a brand new communication strategy

In 2017 Pangea.org went through a process of refreshing its image and improving its communication methods, towards its members and the world. As a part of this process, the association’s website has been renewed: the new one has a modern and clearer image and a new structure to facilitate access to information. A new blog has been started to spread information not only about their work but also about subjects related to information and communications technologies, social and solidarity economy and social justice that affect society.

Pangea.org has made an effort to explain the difference between “free” services offered by large multinational companies and the ones offered by Pangea.org and other organisations of our local social economy. They made a video, in collaboration with some of their members, with the message “On the internet, a free product means you are the product.” This video and the campaign launched with it focus on the values behind our work (solidarity, equity, justice, sustainability, fair trade…), to highlight their unique traits and thus capture the interest of new potential members.

Pangea has also been busy migrating from ownCloud to Nextcloud and introducing new apps to improve their services.

Image source: Pangea.

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