Political Economy of an Alternative Internet

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 10:00am

Community networks (CNs) provide citizens with access to a neutral, bottom-up network infrastructure, which increases the transparency of data flow, but they also represent an archetype of networked collective cooperation and action, mixing common or communal ownership and management of an infrastructure with a balanced set of services supported by the local stakeholders. In this way, they are a departure from the standard Internet, which is dominated by commercial Internet providers, global corporate platforms and limited user capacity in controlling their data. 

As part of the netCommons project, UoW organizes a one-day workshop in London in May 15, 2018, starting at 10:00am, which will conduct a joint stakeholder and academic debate and aims to provide useful  results for CNs.  

The workshop will draw on research conducted within the project; specifically, research on legal and sustainability challenges of CNs, as well as a survey collecting concerns about the Internet and views of the respondents vis-à-vis CNs as alternatives.  

Building on this research, the workshop will aim to address policy issues, such as forms of ownership (public/private/community), funding, access and data management in relation to the standard Internet and CNs in particular.  In particular, it will propose:

  • A set of political economy-based policy and ethical guidelines/recommendations that can support the fostering of a participatory, co-operative and community-oriented Internet. 
  • A set of policy recommendations towards EU and member states and their legislations on how to foster and facilitate the development of CNs – including issues such as liability, spectrum policy, legal requirements, e.g. on data retention and privacy policies.  

During the workshop these guidelines and policy recommendations will be discussed with project advisors, policy-makers, regulators, network and service providers, activists, civil society, as well as CN representatives.

The workshop will inform further work on the project which will eventually result in a detailed set of recommendations on how to foster long-term sustainability of CNs based on alternative, more ethical values to the standard, commercial, Internet landscape.

If interested in attending the workshop, please contact d.boucas@westminster.ac.uk or m.michalis@westminster.ac.uk