Supporting movements, protecting communities in the digital age
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Nicole A. Ozer, technology and civil liberties director at the ACLU of California, has spent her sabbatical working with Stanford University on a study of “digital civil society” and how funders and institutions can better support civil society organizations in addressing their core missions in the digital age. So what better place than an Upswell workshop to discuss some of the initial findings, possible impacts, and next steps?
“We are all connecting, communicating, and mobilizing with digital technology, and so the work underway in communities and by individuals to build and support social change is all intersecting with digital issues – from digital privacy and government surveillance to net neutrality,” Nicole explains. “Our Stanford research team is spending the year identifying current connections between broader civil society and those working more specifically on digital issues, and highlighting ways that institutions and funders can better support collaborative work and more shared power for social change in the digital age.”
As an example of how digital and community issues are interconnected, Nicole notes that ICE wants to use facial recognition surveillance, and that police departments in cities across the country, including Chicago, have used social media surveillance marketed to monitor and surveil activists of color. Social justice activists have also been tracked and monitored by their cell phones, she adds, and “any loss of net neutrality will have profound effects on if and how people can use the internet to learn about important issues — like civil rights to reproductive justice – and join and be a part of political protests.”
During the workshop, Nicole will preview initial findings from a wide range of research interviews and convenings in the United States, Canada, and Europe. She will discuss highlights, including how organizations are currently working together and using varying strategies in an integrated way to create more effective change. She’ll also review the “draft recommendations for how funders and institutions can better support connected movements to protect communities and individuals in the digital age.”
Nicole is excited to attend her first Upswell, and have an audience with a wide range of organizations, experiences, and perspectives to help inform what has surfaced so far through the research study.
“We’re looking forward to workshop participants providing some really important insights that we can share with funders in the future to make sure that there’s the right kind of support for the work that we all can and should be doing together.”
A Digital Policy Roadmap for Civil Society is happening Wednesday, November 13 from 9:30 – 10:45am.