Global Civil Society launches the Internet Social Forum

Occupy London crowd

A Call To Occupy The Internet

PRESS RELEASE. Geneva, Switzerland, 22st January, 2015.

A group of civil society organisations from around the world has announced the Internet Social Forum, to bring together and articulate bottom-up perspectives on the ‘Internet we want’ and the ‘Web we want’.

Taking inspiration from the World Social Forum, and its clarion call, ‘Another World is possible’, the group seeks to draw urgent attention to the increasing centralization of the Internet for extraction of monopoly rents and for socio-political control, asserting that ‘Another Internet is possible’!

The Internet Social Forum will inter alia offer an alternative to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Net Mundial Initiative’. While the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the ‘Net Mundial Initiative’ convene global elites, the Internet Social Forum will be a participatory and bottom-up space for all those who believe that the global Internet must evolve in the public interest; a direct parallel to the launch of the World Social Forum in 2001 as an counter initiative to the WEF.

The Internet Social Forum will reach out to grassroots groups and social movements across the world, catalysing a groundswell that challenges the entrenched elite interests currently controlling how the Internet is managed. The Internet Social Forum’s preparatory process will kick off during the World Social Forum to take place in Tunis, March 24th to 28th, 2015. The Internet Social Forum itself is planned to be held either late 2015 or early 2016.

“While the world’s biggest companies have every right to debate the future of the Internet, we are concerned that their perspectives should not drown out those of ordinary Internet users who have no access to the privileged terrain WEF occupies – in the end it is this wider public interest that must be paramount in governing the Internet. We are organising the Internet Social Forum to make sure their voices can’t be ignored in the corridors of power,” said Norbert Bollow, Co-Coordinator of the Just Net Coalition, which is one of the groups involved in the initiative.

The Internet Social Forum, and its preparatory process, is intended as a space to build the ‘Internet we want’ and the ‘Web we want’. It will be underpinned by values of democracy, human rights and social justice. It will stand for participatory policy making and promote community media. It will seek an Internet that is decentralized in its architecture and based on people’s unfettered rights to data, information, knowledge and other ‘commons’ that the Internet has enabled the world community to generate and share.

Consistent with Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s call for a ‘Magna Carta for the Internet’, the Internet Social Forum proposes to develop a People’s Internet Manifesto, through a bottom-up process involving all concerned social groups and movements, in different areas, from techies and ICT-for-development actors to media reform groups, democracy movements and social justice activists.

This year will also see the 10 year high-level review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in New York in December. As a full-scale review of a major UN summit, this will be a critical global political event. Since the WSIS, in the early part of the millennium, the Internet, and what it means socially, has undergone a paradigm shift. The WSIS witnessed active engagement of civil society and technical groups as well as of business. However, currently, there is a risk that this UN-led initiative on governance issues of the information society and Internet will be sidelined in favour of private, big-business-dominated initiatives like the WEF’s Net Mundial Initiative. The Internet Social Forum, while remaining primarily a people’s forum, will also seek to channel global civil society’s engagement towards the WSIS +10 review.

The following organisations form the initial group that is proposing the Internet Social Forum, and many more are expected to join in the immediate future. This is an open call to progressive groups from all over the world to join this initiative, and participate in developing a People’s Internet Manifesto.

Just Net Coalition, Global

P2P Foundation, Global

Transnational Institute, Global

Forum on Communication for Integration of our America, Regional (Latin America)

Arab NGO Network for Development, Regional

Agencia Latinoamericana de Información, Regional

Alternative Informatics Association, Turkey

Knowledge Commons, India

Open-Root/EUROLINC, France, India

CODE-IP Trust, Kenya, Switzerland

Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training, Canada

IT for Change, India

Association for Proper Internet Governance, Switzerland

Computer Professionals Union, Philippines

Free Press, USA

Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Philippines

Other News, Italy

Free Software Movement of India

Global_Geneva, Switzerland

Solidarius (Solidarity Economy Network), Italy

All India Peoples Science Network, India

Institute for Local Self-Reliance – Community Broadband Networks, USA

Please contact us at [email protected] for further information or clarification.

Or the following regional contacts:

Europe Norbert Bollow Email: [email protected]

Asia Rishab Bailey Email: [email protected]

Africa Alex Gakaru Email: [email protected]

North America Micheal Gurstein Email: [email protected]

South America Sally Burch Email: [email protected]


1 Comment Global Civil Society launches the Internet Social Forum

  1. AvatarTom Crowl

    I believe the model below is worthy of discussion in this context…

    Scale and the Micropayment: The Missing Lever

    Such a utility can be run profitably or non-profitably…

    My preference is that it should be run as a for-profit structure BUT majority or completely owned by its users (i.e.everybody as a co-op or some form of universal ownership)

    I believe I deserve a role in its development and some acknowledgment in bringing it forward as I’ve incurred great loss trying to get it noticed. If the model is faulty I welcome input on ways to improve it. I hold U.S. patent (which I know many may object to) but I’ve also long welcomed development here or elsewhere and only ask some consideration. (Frankly, like many of us in this movement I’m very, very poor and not some big wig trying to start a monopoly which this could tend toward).

    Moreover if I can get it developed there I can use that to force any U.S. domestic attempt to do the same thing to conform to some form of public ownership (happy to consider one of the innovative biz models discussed here to avoid its eventual dominance by corporate and financial interests (which is likely unless they can be finessed… i.e. either forced or embarrassed into it.)

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