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Symposium "Internet-Driven Developments: Structural Changes and TippingPoints."Berkman Center for Internet and SocietyHarvard UniversityDecember 7th 2012"Use Case #1: Political Participation: New Orders, Democracy, Governance,and Civic Engagement"By María Elena MenesesGoog morning,I would like to point out the following 3 themes for our discussion:Internet development and its knowledge is different within countries, but weare probably facing similar problems and questions -more than we think.In emergent economies we are facing a complex environment about the linkbetween Internet and democracyIn one side: Domestic challenges, like the connectivity gap and new forms ofpolitical participation versus weak democratic institutions.In Mexico bloggers and Internet users are facing attemps of censorship inmany regions affected by the organized crime.And at the mean time, we are facing global threats like ACTA.1. About political participation:1.1 In economies where the penetration of Internet under 40% the bigchallenge is: ConnectivityThe main effect is that the new ecosystem is not yet a real counterpower forthe traditional institutions and mainstream media.Even so, during the recent presidential elections (2012) a group of studentsstarted a collective action, Yo soy 132.They used social networks against the mainstream media (often corruptedand biased - self censored- because of the criminals threat) and against the
candidate that was leading the polls, Enrique Peña Nieto, accussed to besupported by the most important media mogul in the country: EmilioAzcárraga the owner of Televisa.As some studies point out, this movement that demand the end of thetelevision monopoly, probably affected de results of the presidential election,but not enough, to change it. Peña won the presidency.Even so the students stared a new form of political participation and theyrevitalized the young mexican democracy.2. About social networks and organized crimeLocal Goverments have the attempt to regulate the Internet arguing that theywant to keep social peace. Bloggers have been arrested for spread rumorsabout shootings.In the other side, in the north part of Mexico Bloggers have been assesinatedby drug trafickers, where citizen journalists are taking the social networks toinform what the mainstream are not informing: shootings and kidnappings.3. About global challengesSome emergent economies are facing an extremely pressure in order to signtrade agreemenst like ACTA (Anticounterfeiting Trade Agreement) , thats´sthe case of Mexico.A new trade agreement is another threat: The TPP (Trans Pacific-Partnership), negotiated by 11 countries with dangerous implications onfreedom of speech.Agreemenst like these could inhibit the use of Internet in countries where thedigital divide is an obstacle for electronic democracy and participation.Even more, if Internet providers do a surveillance labor, who garanteescitizens not to be bothered by gubernamental censorship?
It´s complex environment, but at the same time is an enormous challenge foremergent economies like Mexico and probably others in Latin AmericaI propose the following questions... • What is the best way to elaborate alternative proposals to ACTA and domestic bills like SOPA, PIPA an others like Sinde in Spain, Lleras in Colombia or Doring in Mexico? • How can we measure Internet power for democracy where it is not strong? • What kind of political participation is emerging?and how this movements organized by social networks would impact in emergent democracies? • Is it possible to elaborate a third way for Internet develompment in emergent enonomies?