2016 has been an eventful year by any measure — including the evolution of web policy around the world. There have been crucial wins, like the defeat of Nigeria’s oppressive Social Media Bill, net neutrality victories in the EU and India, and UN recognition of the internet access as a human right. But there have also been serious disappointments, such as the passage of the UK Investigatory Powers Bill, and a growing digital gender gap.
As we gear up to fight for digital equality in 2017 we wanted to reflect on some of our highlights from the past year:
Campaigned for a FASTAfrica
In May we kicked off FASTAfrica, a campaign for Fast, Affordable, Safe and Transparent Internet in Africa. The campaign delivered 30 grants for a week of action across 20 countries, reaching millions of people off and online and delivering its demands to the World Economic Forum in Kigali.
Harnessed gender data in Côte d’Ivoire
We helped launch TechMousso, a gender data challenge in Côte d’Ivoire. With a $10,000 prize, the challenge brought together civil society, policymakers and technologists to find solutions to unlock gender data, and put it to practical use. Team Mafubo came top of 80 entrants with its proposal to network maternity wards, allowing staff to record available resources and better monitor pregnant women using a web app.
Helped defend net neutrality in Europe
We worked with the Save the Internet coalition, Avaaz and others, calling on EU regulators to issue strong net neutrality protections. Our founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, published an open letter with Professors Larry Lessig and Barbara Van Schewick backing the #savetheinternet campaign. 500,000 of you signed on, submitting responses to the public consultation — and you were heard! New guidelines were passed, upholding net neutrality principles.
Convened the inaugural Africa Summit on Women and Girls in tech
2016 saw us co-organise the first Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology, focusing on how policy can increase women’s empowerment by and on the internet. The summit worked to create a set of key actions that policymakers, activists, teachers, technologists, and community leaders must take to ensure that women and girls in Africa have access to a web that is open, safe, and empowering.
Received recognition for our gender rights work
We were delighted to win the 2016 ITU-UN Women GEM-TECH Award for our work developing gender-responsive ICT governance, policy and access. The award specifically recognised our work to promote women’s internet access and online empowerment through theAlliance for Affordable Internet and ourWomen’s Rights Online initiative.
Championed open data innovation
Our Open Data Lab in Jakarta supports initiatives that harness the power of open data to address social problems. GeRAK Aceh, an Open Labs partner and Indonesian anti-corruption Watchdog scored a victory in October, pressuring the provincial government to extend Aceh’s current moratorium on mining to 2017, achieved partly through data-driven advocacy. As well as partnering with organisations like GeRAK, the Labs works to foster collaboration and learning, and brought 21 innovators together for Southeast Asia Open Data Innovation Week to work on open data solutions.
Promoted Open Data Charter principles
We continued to push governments and multilateral organisations to adopt the principles of the International Open Data Charter, so that government data can be used by, and for the benefit of everyone. As our Founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee said, “To achieve the goals of sustainable development, critical data must be open and available for reuse by anyone, anywhere, anytime.” To date, 41 national and subnational governments have adopted and form part of a growing community of governments dedicated to making open data a reality for citizens.
Published a trove of new research
We contributed to policy debates with our original research including the 2015-16 Affordability Report, the 3rd edition of our Open Data Barometer, a Digital Gender Gap Audit, and research into zero-rating in developing countries.
Thank you for supporting our work this year, helping to make sure the World Wide Web is ‘for everyone’. We hope you’ll keep in touch in 2017 — follow us on Twitter @webfoundation and sign up for our newsletter.