Policy papers & briefings

Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC)

This four-pager is based on a longer report with the same title, written by Tony Roberts and Kevin Hernandez (Institute of Development Studies 2021, forthcoming).

Download the paper here.

Digitalisation is perhaps the most important strategic challenge facing governance in the decade ahead. There are valuable opportunities that digitalisation provides to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16 and 17, and particularly target 16.7 of ‘inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels’. At the same time, there are new governance challenges raised by digital disruption, including the loss of privacy due to mass surveillance, closures of online civic space, and the shift of governance power away from citizens and domestic institutions to unaccountable internet corporations in foreign capitals. The most important insight is that digital technologies themselves are neither good nor bad, nor are they ever neutral. Also, technology use tends to reflect the wider political and economic interests that are at play anyway.

Stanford PACS

The infrastructure upon which the Internet is built determines who can be online, who they can communicate with, what they can access, and how this all works. The decisions that shape the Internet infrastructure can both advance and restrict how users communicate and how information is accessed and shared, thus having a significant effect on how the Internet can impact the public interest, especially in regards to social justice, civil liberties, and human rights.

The design and governance of the Internet infrastructure have significant political and economic implications that affect the rights of users around the globe. Knowing how the mechanisms and practices embedded in the Internet’s underlying technology work is key to understanding and advocating for societal and political developments.

This reading list is designed for civil society actors, technologists, policymakers, and users who wish to learn about the inner workings of the Internet infrastructure in order to approach its growth and the application of its governance as a site of advocacy. In addition to an introduction to the topic and a curated collection of readings, this resource also includes an index of civil society organizations that are actively advocating for a public interest Internet infrastructure, to inspire readers to further explore and engage with current and future initiatives and campaign.

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