New Internationalist

Digital democracy: action and contacts

January 2015

Freedom of expression, rights to information and privacy

International Modern Media Institute (IMMI)
Dedicated to developing havens for freedom of information, speech and expression. It creates supportive legal environments for the publication of investigative journalism and other threatened online media.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA)
A non-profit national organization that has been promoting digital freedom, access and privacy in Australia since 1994. Currently running the Citizens not Suspects campaign against indiscriminate data retention.

The Centre for Internet & Society (CIS)
India-based organization dedicated to improving understanding of the internet and defending consumer and citizen rights on it.

Privacy International
Defends and promotes rights to privacy. Has organized more than 50 campaigns around the world.

Tor Project
Has developed the Tor encryption tool that provides anonymity online and protects the privacy of the user against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

Liquid Democracy

Liquid Democracy – also referred to as Delegative Democracy or Proxy Voting – is a system whereby delegates are vested with voting power. As a tool of Direct Democracy, where issues are decided by referendum, Liquid Democracy allows for the fact that a citizen may lack time or interest to devote to particular issues. Person A might not know much about issue X but might trust Person B to vote on their behalf. These delegations can be revoked at any stage. In some systems, delegated voting power can be forwarded, from person b to person C and so on.

This is a major break from representative democracy – or governance – where representatives have only to engage with their constituents during elections, holding the seat of power for a pre-determined time. as we transition from a traditional representative system, liquid democracy strategies can be adopted by the old system, decentralizing power further, and paving the way for a stronger direct democracy system.

Access Now
Defends and extends the digital rights of at-risk users around the world.

Brussels-based European Digital Rights advocacy group.

Freedom of the Press Foundation
Manages SecureDrop (open-source whistleblower submission system for media), supports encryption, whistleblowing and investigative journalism.

The Netizen Project
News and information for citizens of the internet. Research into government and corporate policies and practices in relation to free expression and privacy.

Open Rights Group (ORG)
Campaigns to defend digital rights and freedoms and puts journalists in touch with experts.

La Quadrature du Net
Advocates for French and European legislation to respect the founding principles of the internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge.

The following work to protect media freedom and writers and journalists in general:
International Press Institute
The Committee to Protect Journalists
Index on Censorship
Article 19
PEN International

Pirate Parties

Since the first Pirate Party was created in Sweden in 2006, new parties using the ‘Pirate’ label have sprung up in 40 countries. Mainly their priorities are civil rights, direct democracy and participation in government; reform of copyright and patent law; free sharing of knowledge, privacy, transparency and network neutrality.

Some Pirate activists have won seats, mainly in local or regional elections. Iceland’s Pirate Party is the most successful at national level, winning five per cent of the vote and accounting for three out of a total 63 members of parliament.

Pirate Parties International ( is the umbrella organization of the national parties.

Pirates without Borders ( is an international organization of individuals.

Transparency and direct democracy initiatives
Promotes democratic debate and works to increase citizens’ participation, online.

Created by the Buenos Aires-based Net Democracy Foundation, this is an online platform for debating and voting on political issues. Currently used by groups in Argentina, Mexico and Spain.

Sunlight Foundation
Advocates for open government globally and creates technology to dramatically expand access to vital government information to make public officials more accountable.
Created in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Loomio is free and open-source software for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect them.

The Software Freedom Law Centre
Provides pro-bono legal services to developers of Free, Libre and Open Source Software.

Online activism

The Yes Lab
Sum of us
Anonymous anonymous

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 479 This feature was published in the January 2015 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 479

New Internationalist Magazine issue 479
Issue 479

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