Due to taking actions in fighting the bad bills like that ITU, I had received tons of messages from Access Now starting in the beginning of this month. Previously, there was a meeting to decide the future of the Internet and that lasted in December 14th where the proposal was surprisingly rejected. This is probably due to some hard work from us and other members of IDL who had rejected the same proposal. For now, the internet as we use is already the same as ever. So what did happen in Dubai as Access Now had asked me? Well, the negotiations between countries inched toward a consensus before totally collapsing at the 11th hour. Delegations took to the floor and protested but the results were that things had become muddy after two weeks of intense negotiations between the governments.
With censorship, surveillance and the human rights front and center at the conference, a treaty was approved but lacks support from nearly a third of governments. This may be due to the treaty’s vague language that cloud allow repressive regimes to justify their existing censorship and surveillance practices.
Bravos to those who opposed the treaty and Access Now had also sent statements to other member states, urging them to reject the treaty as well. Some delegations are returning to their capitals before making a determination, and Access Now believed they should consult with all those who will be affected by this treaty before deciding whether or not to sign it.
However, the fight for Internet Freedom doesn’t end here this year. There will still be more threats coming in as reported by Access Now, Neowin and other websites regarding the concerns for Internet Freedom. This year, we saw an unprecedented mobilization of internet users, coming together to wield the power of the internet freedom to save the internet. Sure, the preparation started like a year ago in which we discovered the AJ Vlog videos that regarded one of the bills we first discovered like S***, P*** to say a few. Then, we went to various sites to discover more information regarding those bills the other time and then realize that even the major IT companies were also opposing those bills, knowing that those bills were as dumb as ever. Later on, we discovered the Internet Defense League and I was one of the members in which future reports regarding such threats will be blogged here.
The biggest wins for Access Now took place in when we fought the first bad bills like S***, P*** and even A***. Access Now joined with many organizations and internet users from around the globe stood up in opposition to A*** for instance. Many people signed the Access Now’s petition urging the European Parliament to vote down the bad trade agreement. In February 11 which was nearly a month later after the blackout to protest with S***, hundreds of protesters took similar actions against A***. Finally, the European Parliament voted to reject the agreement after the realization of how controversial the bill was. Whoever behind that bill should be out of the job.
There are also plans for Access Now next year in which they are making a rapid-response system to quickly react to some of the greatest digital threats facing citizens in the most dangerous regions. The best part is that they will be basing this system in region, making it more responsive and effective. They will set up a regional tech office, purchase computers and blackout-resistant tools to help empower activists, and hire local technical staff to get this digital security platform up and running. These resources will allow activists stay one step ahead in this dangerous cat-and-mouse game going on right now on the internet. They will have big plans for Middle East and beyond for next year. Hopefully, their plans should succeed as the mission in fighting the digital threats is not over yet but that depends on whichever country that is most vulnerable to those threats that Access Now can replicate the regional office and platform to other regions. This system can enable activists struggling against repressive governments, by rapidly responding to internet blackouts and providing tools and materials to distressed citizens behind the firewall in real time, within region and with local expertise. However, to make this happen overall, they are urging us to make some donations in order to extend their business.
Lastly, there was one more mail from Access Now before they say goodbye to this year and hello to next year. There was a project called The Digital Security Helpline and they were basing it in these very regions, to better serve, educate and protect these at risks from future threats. In reality, whatever we do, we’re being watched by the repressive governments but the worse thing is that the NGOs and activists are constantly living under the threat of cyber attacks, jeopardizing their work, personal information and even their lives or future or whatever. Speaking of personal information and work under threats, there were some most stupid policies added to the companies and schools in the US as I never forgot such as not being allowed to work if your Facebook credentials were not surrendered or expelled from school for not removing your Facebook account. Those sounded completely bullshit and I had already known about those crap a lot of times but that was last time and I don’t know if those policies are gone completely. The helpline can provide a service that with your help will be expanded to the region and staffed to provide the advice, skills, tools and materials for activists to defend themselves and empower the work they do. So, how is Access Now fighting back against online censorship and surveillance in these dangerous regions? By training and arming the activists with the tools available. Eventually, the helpline will become one of the most direct ways to empower the people on the ground to fight back, keep themselves safe and use the open internet securely to participate in society. Once again, this requires donation if Access Now wants that project to happen and succeed.