Organizing an Internet Social Forum

Just Net Coalition / Association for Proper Internet Governance
A Call to Occupy the Internet

The Internet has become an essential part of our daily lives. It is becoming our basic means to access knowledge and to communicate with each other, as well as the new arteries for commerce. It holds great promise for strengthening democracy, for building the solidarity economy and for ensuring cultural diversity. However while this is occurring, the Internet is being coopted and controlled for private gain by a few corporations; data mining tools are processing our personal data in ways over which we have no say or knowledge; the Internet is being militarized and new digital technologies are transforming our world into a super surveillance society. What was supposed to liberate is being employed to chain and control us!

The World Social Forum (WSF) that first took place in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and has continued since then, represents, as stated in the WSF Charter, a different kind of globalization than that “commanded by the large multinational corporations and by the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations’ interests”. The Charter enshrines the values that “globalization in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history. This will respect universal human rights of all citizens – men and women – of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples”.

A group of organizations that believe that “Another World is Possible” have come together to create an Internet Social Forum that will carry forward the vision of the WSF Charter to the governance of the Internet. It will pursue a people’s agenda, challenging the neoliberal governance agenda to give corporations a veto over public policy, the latest and the most symbolic form of which is the WEF-based Net Mundial Initiative.

This workshop will present the status of the Internet Social Forum, explain the need for it and its modalities. It will explore how in such a Forum can be collaboratively defined the Internet we want and how to build it; and also how to begin a process to develop a ‘People’s Internet Manifesto’.

Speakers / panellists

Norbert Bollow, co-convenor, Just Net Coalition

Richard Hill, President, Association for Proper Internet Governance

Ahmed Eisa, Gedaref digital city organization, Sudan

Shawna Finnegan, Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Session’s link to WSIS Action Lines
  • C1. The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
  • C3. Access to information and knowledge
  • C10. Ethical dimensions of the Information Society
Session’s link to the Sustainable Development Process

Developing a people’s agenda for the Internet – as proposed here – and then implementing it, is of essential importance for the social sustainability aspect of the sustainable development process.