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How the Internet is governed in the future will shape global communications, development and human rights. The Internet governance guidebook is written for, and by, stakeholders in the Global South.
Imagine spending a year shooting a documentary that's subsequently banned in your country and the relief in realizing that your work can still reach a global audience when it's uploaded to YouTube. Imagine how much easier it is to use WhatsApp to file reports as a journalist working in a rural area. Imagine how satisfying it is as a migrant worker to be able to rate your experience of your recruiter online and help other people find work safely.
As these examples illustrate, the Internet allows people to share, and engage with, ideas and information in ways never before imaginable. And this online freedom of expression, in turn, helps people find out what is happening around them. In this way, online freedom of expression can help people's social, cultural and economic development.
In fact, the Internet is now considered so fundamental to development that the United Nations new Sustainable Development Goals pledge to increase affordable access to the Internet in the least developed countries.
Threats to Internet freedom
A free and open Internet, however, is increasingly under attack. In many countries, governments are pushing to control the Internet. Online censorship is a growth industry, and Internet and social network shutdowns in response to civil unrest are on the rise. Online surveillance is exploding and people are being increasingly intimidated or detained because of their online activities. At the same time, Internet providers such as telecommunications companies are seeking to monetize parts of the Internet to maximize profits.
All of these are threating the Internet's foundational principles of openness and universal access. Currently, there's a growing push for reforms to Internet governance, that is, how the Internet is managed and governed. And it's absolutely vital for stakeholders in the Global South to help shape the Internet governance debate. Especially considering the unevenness of access and use of the Internet between the Global South and the Global North.
For this reason, DW Akademie together with iRights, has published the Guidebook Internet Governance. The guidebook seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of Internet governance by exploring some of the most pressing Internet governance issues facing the Global South.