SIF inspires discussions on improved digital rights in Myanmar!

Throughout the years, many events inspired by the Stockholm Internet Forum have been arranged across the globe. Several Swedish embassies have arranged meetings, lunches and networking events ahead and after the main SIF, and we have also seen spin-off events like the Maputo Internet Forum. Just recently, we received encouraging news about a super successful Myanmar Digital Rights Forum, gathering participants from different sectors to discuss internet freedom in Myanmar.

 

The Myanmar Digital Rights Forum took place in Yangon on 14-15 December and gathered leaders from a variety of different sectors, including the Myanmar government. The initiative to arrange the forum came from inspired former participants at the Stockholm Internet Forum, and in effect became a Myanmar version of the SIF.  The event was the first of its kind in a country that until recently for decades was very isolated from the rest of the world.  The Swedish Embassy Section Office in Yangon funded the event.

The inclusion of the government in the discussions on internet freedom is an important and positive change in the right direction. The changing times were  also evident by the fact that several speakers and participants were former political prisoners. Myanmar is currently undergoing a transition process towards democracy with its first democratically elected government since the 1950s. However, the democratization process is still ongoing and human rights violations are still occurring widely in the country.

MDRF

Internet usage has grown explosively in the last years in Myanmar. A few years back, the price for a SIM card was a staggering 2 000 USD, today it costs around 1 USD. In combination with cheap smartphones, this means that a majority of the people for the first time have access to the internet. As discussed at the forum, there is a lack of awareness of digital rights in the country, as well as a lack of digital literacy. A current problem is the spreading of fake news and rumors, and the increasing use of hate speech online. This is a critical problem in a country with a lack of access to information, and existing widespread tension and violence between different groups.

The laws are not keeping up with the huge increase in connectivity, and there is a need for people’s freedom and rights online to be ensured. “Urgent action is needed to make sure that Myanmar people are protected when they are using the internet” said Ei Myat Noe Khin from Phandeeyar, one of the lead organizers of the forum.

MDRF1One of the laws that particularly poses problems for digital rights and freedom of expression is the Telecommunications law. People are being convicted for stating opinions online that are considered to defame the government and others, but the provisions are considered as broad and vague.  There are now calls for this article to being amended.

The Myanmar Digital Rights Forum was a very timely event in the ongoing transition process in Myanmar, and the digital rights movement here is considered to have increased its energy. It is great to know that the Stockholm Internet Forum played a decisive part in this development, and the organizers hope that they can give valuable input from Myanmar to this year’s Stockholm Internet Forum, too!

We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the four organizing partners for their hard work: Phandeeyar Innovation Lab, Myanmar ICT Development Organization (MIDO), Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and Engage Media.

 

This text was written by Linnea Cederlund at the Embassy of Sweden, Section office in Yangon with editing by SIF.

Jac sm Kee confirmed as speaker at SIF17

We are delighted to announce that internationally renowned feminist and human rights activist Jac sm Kee is a confirmed speaker at SIF17.

Jac sm Kee is a researcher, writer and internet activist heading the Sida supported Association for Progressive Communications (APC’s) Women’s Rights Programme.

Jac was in Stockholm in November to accept the Stieg Larsson award for her struggle for women’s right to a free online environment and for an open and equal information society based on the potential of the internet.

Check out this clip where Jac recorded a message for all participants at SIF17.

Stay tuned for more updates on the program for SIF17.

 

See the full length video to hear more about Jac sm Kee’s work here.

We are getting closer…

With almost six months to go, preparations for the Stockholm Internet Forum 2017 are well under way. The detailed programme for the conference is taking shape and a preview will be available soon

The invitation process to SIF17 will be moving ahead throughout the spring. Those of you who are unable to join us in Stockholm in May can follow SIF17 live, here and on Twitter. For the overarching theme of SIF17, please click here.

We are very excited and starting to activate ourselves for SIF17. We would like your support in spreading the word about this year’s event and helping us assemble relevant topics concerning the main theme “Access and Power”. Use #sif17 and follow us on Twitter @fxinternet

“Leave no one offline”

Access and Power Theme for Stockholm Internet Forum 2017 (SIF17)

The connections between access and power are the focus for SIF17. The empowering benefits of Internet accessibility will be disseminated and analyzed from an intersectional perspective, targeting political, economic and social aspects of power.

The theme connects to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which recognizes that “the spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies” Digital development and access to information is key to the realization of the 2030 Agenda that strives to leave no one behind, hence “Leave no one offline” is the slogan for SIF17.

Organised and hosted by Sida, SIF is a unique conference that connects a broad range of people from various parts of society working to use the potential of the Internet to reduce poverty and fight oppression.SIF is committed to equality and diversity and it has successfully gathered participants engaged in digital development and freedom of expression from all over the world since 2012. Around 500 people from 90 mostly low and middle income countries participated in SIF 2015.

SIF participants range from internet activists, members of academia, representatives of companies, organisations and governments, entrepreneurs, digital innovators etc. We receive many testimonies from participants that are able to connect and network with likeminded people across sectors in a way that would have been impossible without this conference.

The number of participants are limited and therefore participation is by invitation only. Those of you who are unable to join us in Stockholm in May can follow SIF17 live here and on Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter @fxinternet

First announcement for #SIF17: “Access and Power”

The Internet is undoubtedly a powerful technology that has had a tremendous impact on billions of people’s lives by giving access to an “uncompromised” source of information, a possibility to communicate directly to individuals all over the globe as well as to millions of people at the same time.

Every day the capacity of computers and phones improves and new innovations are lining up. We are starting to understand real time data and has cloud capacity to analyze it. The world has not just one window of opportunity but unlimited opportunities.

Stockholm Internet Forum 2017 will focus on the connection(s) between access and power. Enjoying the benefits of cross-sectorial collaboration this can be understood from many perspectives. One major key issue is however the empowering benefits of Internet accessibility – targeting both political, economic and social aspects of power.

Stockholm Internet Forum - photo of the audience
(Photo: Martina Huber/Regeringskansliet)

A major focus of will continue to be on community building and learning, making sure that the competence of participating individuals and organizations is used at its most.

By discussing power and structures of different sorts we hope to gain learnings that can be useful for future-proofing development and human rights. Analyzing gender structures has a great potential to provide not just a better understanding of power relations but is also an effective way of finding solutions to societal inequalities.

We, together, need to ensure that all of the Internet really is for all, all the time.

Stockholm Internet Forum 2017. Münchenbryggeriet venue in Stockholm. May 16-18 2017!

More information will follow.

Looking forward…

The SIF15 team would like to extend a sincere thank you to everybody who participated in #SIF15. We are grateful for your insightful understandings of this year´s theme of access through a gendered lens and for all your contributions to the discussions that SIF15 culminated in. Drawing on your inputs at the conference, we have […]

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