About 100 people across the world representing different culture, traditions, and talking about their issues and challenges at the same platform provided by Association for Progressive Communications (APC) from 1-9 June 2014 at Barcelona, Spain. Hosted by APC member Pangea at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (BarcelonaTech UPC), it was 12th face-to-face APC member meeting, since it was founded in 1990.
This meeting is not only for APC board members or staff, but it also includes its organizational members; and individual affiliates who are strengthening network and bringing collaborative efforts within their community.
The programme covered wide range of topics – from internet rights; community networks; access & infrastructural issues; network security issues; human rights; issues around women and their violations; data protection; cyber-laws; and free and open source resources and tools.
On June 1st 2014, the programme started with sharing sessions on ‘Internet rights are human rights’ training modules aiming to build understanding of the relationship between human rights, ICTs and the internet. These modules are intended to help advocators and actors who work on human rights and internet/ICTs and others with an interest in the issues. Participants worked together in small groups and learnt about the international human rights regime using different case-studies. The sharing session continued on 2nd and 3rd June, 2014 and discussions around the impact of the internet on human rights were continued. They also analyzed the theory and practical implications that are related to the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and privacy.
Every year, new members join APC and since its last member meeting in Manila, Philippines, 22 new organizational and individual members have joined in. This was perfect time to meet face-to-face with new member colleagues and to learn about their work and the teams they lead in their countries. APC specially welcomed all new members and also given orientation for the upcoming plans.
Initial three days of the programme charged the participants so much that it was perfect time to talk about technologies, resources and look at human rights issues through the lens of technology. It was time for TakeBackTheNet (TBTN) event where human rights advocates and transformative technology providers were ready to discuss what civil society organizations and individuals can do to work together and to restore trust in communication infrastructure. TBTN was organized on 4-5 June 2014, the crucial and time when we were celebrating the anniversary on the revelations of by Edward Snowden who exposed an unprecedented level of mass surveillance of internet users.
The event was trying to bring some answers around how civil society organizations and technologists can work to advocate for internet and human rights issues together. The part of the answer to this problem is that civil society organizations and tech activists to take measures together and into their own hands by adopting tools and technologies that are free and open source; sustainable and cost-effective.
The event concluded with award ceremony celebrating the two winners of the global APC Chris Nicol FLOSS Prize 2014. The award recognized people who are using free/libre and open source software (FLOSS). The idea behind this award was to honour Chris Nicol, a longtime FLOSS advocate and activist who for many years worked with APC and its Barcelona-based member organisation Pangea.
Network LaLoLib, an initiative of Colombia won the award for solving the problem of connectivity for their inhabitants of La Vereda La Loma by constructing the local mesh network. The network used all forms of free and open source software from the network nodes to the servers and content.
After learning, sharing and debating on so many topics together, it was time for members to share their skills amongst other member colleagues and learn from their skills. Using open space methodology, APC’s Share and Remix Session was organized on 6th June, 2014. Network members updated each other on the work they are doing, proposed joint campaigns and planned for new collaborations. This was a space for stories, films, posters, songs and poetry as well as a place for hands-on sessions on open source tools and other tips and tricks or for brainstorming about fundraising strategies. Participants created their own agenda for the day with what they bring to the sessions and the topics they propose for discussion.
Six days passed-by like six hours in discussions, debating, sharing and learning from fellow members. This was collective collaborative effort to understand issues internet and human rights. Across the globe, whether it is India, Latin America, Malaysia, South Korea or Africa, issues are same – freedom of expression, data protection, cyber surveillance, violence against women or human rights. Difference is just that we all have adopted different methodology to address these issues. It is a time to join hands and make a collaborative effort to address these issues instead of working in isolations.
 Internet rights are human rights Training Modules