SIF13 (IV). Cyberactvism: Caught between love and hate?

Notes from the Stockholm Internet Forum on Internet Freedom for Global Development, held at Münchenbryggeriet (The Brewery) at Södermalm in Stockholm, Sweden, May 22-23, 2013. More notes on this event: #sif13.

Unconference. Cyberactvism: Caught between love and hate?

Moderator: Vilhelm Konnander.

In Egypt: have treats on digital activists increased after the Arab Spring? Threats have increased, but also has the number of users of social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook). And not only are there more users, but they are active users that look for and share information and news. The bad thing is that now the government is also on Twitter or Facebook and can monitor and track who said what, when and to whom.

In Ethiopia: all media are owned by the government. So, social networking sites are the only place where the citizens can get some information not controlled by the government. The problem is now that the government aims at controlling the Internet too. All the websites that are critical with the government are automatically blocked. The government also uses spyware to monitor their citizens.

In Iran: before 2009, bloggers got arrested, there was some censorship and blocking. After 2009, people began to use Twitter and Facebook and share photos and videos. So, now the Internet is a target to be controlled. The government is working now for a national/halal/Islamic Internet by replacing third parties’ solutions by their own (their own Twitter, their own Facebook, etc.).

In Russia: Russia is very afraid of revolutions (Georgia, Ukraine, etc.) so it wants to control the Internet to avoid further revolutions. Just like in times of the Soviet Union, “dissidents” are targeted, identified (online and offline) to “deactivate” them.

We have not to misunderstand freedom of expression and the freedom to risk your like by speaking out. There might be freedom of expression and not “freedom after expression”.

Is it possible to get funding for cyberactivism? From abroad? Is it a good thing or is it harmful?

In Ethiopia is very difficult to get funding from outside, but it is very much needed: for reaching out, for expanding one’s networks, to scale up training and skills of volunteers/bloggers, etc.

A problem that most activists face in Egypt — and elsewhere — is that as they are not constituted and registered as a formal ONG, it is very difficult to (a) get funding and, in case they got it, (b) manage money the “appropriate” way, as a normal institution would (with accounting books, budgets, and so on).

Should we encourage some actions, or some donations… or does that put people in danger? Or will that hamper or worsen the relationships between governments and NGOs and make development cooperation more difficult because of bad diplomatic relationships?

For any major change to happen, steps have to be taken slow but taken sure.


Stockholm Internet Forum on Internet Freedom for Global Development (2013)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2013) “SIF13 (IV). Cyberactvism: Caught between love and hate?” In ICTlogy, #116, May 2013. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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