Advocacy Guidelines

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The goal of this deliverable on Community Networks and Political Advocacy is the identification of how Community Networks (CNs) gain leverage on regulators and policy-makers: What are the appropriate organizational modes to engage in political advocacy in order to foster the growth of community networks as cooperative platforms? What are the successful mediation of their interactions with other actors in the telecom sector and the local, national and European policy environments? In short, how can a CN build political advocacy capacities? With “advocacy capacity-building” we identify the process by which CNs can upgrade the collective skills on which they rely to influence policy development, but also to develop and upgrade the procedures and organizational designs devoted to these activities. To explore these questions, the deliverable’s introductory part (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2) provides a generic description of concepts surrounding political advocacy from the perspective of political science and sociology of political movements. Building on previous netCommons deliverables, in particular D1.4 (Navarro, Baig, Felix, et al. Jan. 2018) , D4.1 (Dulong de Rosnay et al. Dec. 2016) and 4.2 (Giovanella, Dulong de Rosnay, et al. Jan. 2018), D5.1 (Trudel et al. Dec. 2016), and D2.2 (Fuchs et al. 2017), it goes on to stress the need for CNs to integrate advocacy as a core activity, and insists on the potential for CNs advocacy to democratize policy-making in the telecom sector–one that has often be shown to be prone to regulatory capture by special interests. We then describe the theoretical framework and methodology adopted for this deliverable, much of which is grounded in participatory observation by the netCommons team Sec. 2.2. Chapter 3 surveys various case studies that document the ways in which CNs and policy-makers can interact– a documentation process that was hitherto lacking and was called for by members of prominent CNs. Our research shows that CNs have long engaged in these activities, and that these have been increasing in their diversity and scopes in the recent years and months. This was done with the help of various actors evolving around the CN movement in the wider circles on NGOs concerned with Internet policy, but also academic projects such as netCommons. In the course of these interactions, CNs have proved to be able to find appropriate allies and have their expertise recognized by prominent policy actors. We do not find any strong correlation between CNs’ governance features and their advocacy capacities. But, as we note, some CNs sometimes mobilize around issues that are relevant to their values and the wider realm of digital rights, but do not necessarily advance their immediate interests or solve the hurdles they face in telecom regulation (Net neutrality being a case in point). What is more, these capacities tend to be concentrated in the hands of very few individuals within CNs, and are too seldom integrated in full-fledged strategies or institutionalized in a way that would help advocacy become a fundamental component of the CN movement. Finally, and perhaps most crucial, the capacity of these groups to coordinate their action at the EU level is still in an emerging, nascent phase. Based on this research, Chapter 4 makes a series of recommendations on how to build and develop greater advocacy capacities to achieve the highest impact on telecom and other relevant policies. Our recommendations unfold according to four overarching goals.