Evaluating Internet freedom initiatives: what works?

7 November 2012 - A Workshop on Openness in Baku, Azerbaijan


Emerging Issues Question 1 and SOP Question 4
A Workshop on comparing Internet Freedom initiatives evidently addresses Emerging Issues Question 1: What are the implications of the use of new technical and political instruments on the free flow of information, access to information, and with respect for human rights?
It also evidently addresses SOP Question 4: What measures can be taken to ensure freedom of expression, access to knowledge and privacy, including for children? What are challenges to protect freedom of expression online and what measures can be taken to better empower citizen’s access to information and participation in digital age, “Net Etiquette” and the roles and responsibilities of users as they relate to openness, privacy security?

Concise Description of Workshop:
Internet Freedom Initiatives (IFIs) have been sprouting up like mushrooms in North America and Europe in the last few years. Internet freedom has become a foreign policy priority for many Western states. Driven by a decline in online freedoms globally, several North American and European countries have implemented policies and funding schemes to promote Internet freedom and openness in countries around the world. Particularly since important speeches by Hillary Clinton announcing her Internet Freedom strategy in early 2010 and Neelie Kroes announcing the European No Disconnect Strategy in 2011, there has been increasing agreement among states that Internet Freedom Initiatives should play an important role in Foreign Policy.
While there is increasing agreement on the importance of these kinds of initiatives, there is little agreement on how these initiatives can be successful or even what constitutes success. There is also a profound lack academic scholarship or reliable statistical data on which to base such assertions.
The following workshop proposes to bring together Ministries of Foreign Affairs, International Organizations and the development community engaged in drafting, operating or funding Internet Freedom Initiatives from different parts of the world with NGOs and other civil society organizations who are operationalizating these initiatives on the ground. The multi-stakeholder setting will be complemented by the academic and technical communities, to assist in assessing how IFIs could be successful and what political, social and technical factors need to be considered in the drafting, operational and funding process. These different elements will be brought together with experts from several different continents and stakeholder groups.

1. Introductory round
2. What is happening: Existing internet freedom initiatives
3. How is the money being used on the ground?
4. How can companies do to contribute?
5. Where do we go from here?
6. Conclusions