Preserving A Free and Open Internet Contest
by Gigi Alford and Shannon Coyne
When we visited the *iHub_Nairobi last month, we could sense the spirit of innovation nurtured by its collaborative space, energetic members and dedicated staff. It was clear that this creative center both attracts and sparks invention and entrepreneurship in the tech sector.
In our own work at Freedom House, assisting online activists to use new technologies to promote human rights worldwide, we try to foster this same innovative spirit. Take for instance the Freedom House IGF Incubator Project, which we explain below.
Prior to our tour of the *iHub facilities, we spent a week with an inspiring group of human rights activists from around East Africa. The group learned a great deal, but they were especially keen to experiment with the Ushahidi platform – a tool made in Africa and now supporting phenomenal projects in Africa and around the world. The pride and enthusiasm of these activists highlights the rewards of continuing to foster regional innovation – not only for business entrepreneurs, but for civil society, humanitarians and activists as well.
In many ways, online activists and tech-focused innovators represent two examples of why established powers consider the Internet “disruptive.” Our research shows the more activists and innovators use digital platforms to challenge the political, social and economic status quo, the more governments surveil and restrict online activities. Thus, promoting and protecting a free and open Internet is not just in the interest of human rights defenders and civil society organizations; it is also important for technologists, investors, and tech companies alike.
Read the rest of the piece here.