With the growing role that information and communications technologies (ICTs) play in everyday life, a range of advocacy movements have begun emerging around various ‘rights’ everyone should enjoy in relation to their informational activities – e.g. rights to: personal privacy; access to information resources and infrastructure; free expression in on-line fora; control over one’s digital creations; etc. While these various rights movements are largely growing up in isolation from each other, by distinct groups of protagonists in distinct policy arenas, these increasingly can and are being seen as varied aspects of a broader ‘information/communications rights’ movement, with a fledgling sense of their relationships as integral strands of a burgeoning, deeply interwoven ‘infosphere’ or information environment. Signs of this maturation, and the further work still to be done, were visible in the prominent role of civil society organizations at the recent World Summit on the Information Society held in
There are a number of striking parallels between this emergence and interweaving, and the rise of the environmental movement(s) forty years ago, when a similarly varied range of concerns (e.g. about local degradations, species loss, ozone depletion, toxic emissions, etc.) and their particular advocacy actions began making the connections between them and developed a more shared sense of the ‘environment’ and the need for coordinated custodianship.
Using key features of the growth of the environmental movement as a framework, this paper analyses three of the most prominent computerization movements associated with information rights, namely community networking (and ICTs for development), free/open source software (F/OSS), and informational privacy. It examines the core principles and key indicators of movement development, highlighting the linkages and tensions with each other as well as the environmental movement. The paper concludes that there is good potential for their integration within a broader, nascent information/communications rights movement, and points out some of the challenges in achieving.
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