Credit: Missoula Current
Over the last two decades, the internet has profoundly changed how societies operate. People around the world now access and share information at an unprecedented rate. The business community, in particular, has used the internet to increase innovation and productivity, spurring global economic growth. In addition, the internet has transformed the relationship between governments and citizens, as many people use e-democracy tools to demand increased transparency and accountability.
Unfortunately, recognizing that the internet is now one of the most valued ways for people to connect, authoritarian states and declining democracies are increasingly closing the space for open internet. Governments around the world are now taking actions to quash dissent, intimidate independent voices, and prevent the open sharing of ideas in the most significant communication medium of our time. For example, pro-military forces in Myanmar used online censorship to silence independent bloggers and media. Several newspapers have also revealed Russia’s use of troll farms to promote posts of pro-Putin commentaries to harass opponents. At the same time, the new and rapidly evolving nature of the internet means that many citizens are unaware or misinformed of how their fundamental rights such as to speech, assembly, and association apply in a digital world.
In the last decade, new information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become less expensive and more accessible for people around the world. According to the International Telecommunications Union, more than 3 billion people (nearly 47 percent of all the people on earth) now use the internet. Likewise, by the end of 2016, the total number of mobile broadband subscription was expected to reach 3.6 billion. This growing global usage of ICT has made it easier for citizens and organizations to access information and share data, conduct business online, and virtually network with others. Rapid technological advances, in turn, are poised to have a profound impact on democratic and economic development around the world.
Participants at the workshop in Argentina.
This article originally appeared on panoplydigital.com.
By Alexandra Tyers
Last week, I was in Rosario, Argentina with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and their partner in Argentina, Fundacion Libertad. I was there delivering a two-day training workshop on monitoring, evaluation and communication, and using technology for those M&E and advocacy activities.
Podcast guest Lindsey Marchessault
On this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, Lindsey Marchessault from Open Contracting Partnership discusses opening up public contracting through disclosure and data engagement so that public money is spent honestly, fairly, and effectively. Marchessault talks about how this is done and the problems that open contracting is trying to address. She provides interesting examples of projects in countries such as Ukraine and Nigeria, and discusses the different roles played by government, the private sector, and civil society in developing impactful and sustainable change. Marchessault also discusses the kind of support and resources available for those who want to implement open contracting, and gives her advice on the most important first step in any open contracting initiative.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter and learn more about the Open Contracting Partnership.
Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.
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Maiko Nakagaki with Anna Kompanek at IGF.
My colleague and I recently attended the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations-sponsored global multi-stakeholder forum on internet governance hosted this year in Guadalajara by the Government of Mexico. The four-day event attracted over a thousand government, media, civil society, and private sector attendees from around the world to discuss current trends and the future of global internet governance.
For the sixth consecutive year, internet freedom throughout the world has continued to decline. Although efforts to close the digital divide by bringing more people online has continued, 67%, or two-thirds of all internet users, fear the unprecedented penalties from living in countries with high levels of censorship. According to Freedom House’s latest report, Freedom on the Net Report 2016, Estonia, Iceland, and Canada are the most open countries when it comes to internet freedom, while China, Syria, and Iran are the most restrictive.
The 2016 report gathered information from 65 countries, measuring each individual country’s level of internet and digital freedom by using a variety of indicators. Since 2015, Turkey and Brazil have continued to move away from internet freedom, and just 14 countries registered overall improvements from the previous year.