Feminist principles of the internet

https://feministinternet.org/sites/default/files/Feminist_principles_of_the_internetv2-0.pdf

2016


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Preamble


August 26, 2016


A feminist internet works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our

diversities – to fully enjoy our rights, engage in pleasure and play, and dismantle patriarchy.

This integrates our different realities, contexts and specificities – including age, disabilities,

sexualities, gender identities and expressions, socioeconomic locations, political and religious

beliefs, ethnic origins, and racial markers. The following key principles are critical towards

realising a feminist internet.


Access


1 Access to the internet

A feminist internet starts with enabling more women and queer persons to enjoy universal,

acceptable, affordable, unconditional, open, meaningful and equal access to the internet.


2 Access to information

We support and protect unrestricted access to information relevant to women and queer

persons, particularly information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, pleasure, safe

abortion, access to justice, and LGBTIQ issues. This includes diversity in languages, abilities,

interests and contexts.


3 Usage of technology

Women and queer persons have the right to code, design, adapt and critically and sustainably

use ICTs and reclaim technology as a platform for creativity and expression, as well as to

challenge the cultures of sexism and discrimination in all spaces.


Movements & public participation


4 Resistance

The internet is a space where social norms are negotiated, performed and imposed, often in an

extension of other spaces shaped by patriarchy and heteronormativity. Our struggle for a

feminist internet is one that forms part of a continuum of our resistance in other spaces, public,

private and in-between.


5 Movement building

The internet is a transformative political space. It facilitates new forms of citizenship that enable

individuals to claim, construct and express selves, genders and sexualities. This includes

connecting across territories, demanding accountability and transparency, and creating

opportunities for sustained feminist movement building.


6 Internet governance

We believe in challenging the patriarchal spaces and processes that control internet

governance, as well as putting more feminists and queers at the decision-making tables. We

want to democratise policy making affecting the internet as well as diffuse ownership of and

power in global and local networks.


Economy


7. Alternative economies

We are committed to interrogating the capitalist logic that drives technology towards further

privatisation, profit and corporate control. We work to create alternative forms of economic

power that are grounded in principles of cooperation, solidarity, commons, environmental

sustainability, and openness.


8. Free and open source

We are committed to creating and experimenting with technology, including digital safety and

security, and using free/libre and open source software (FLOSS), tools, and platforms.

Promoting, disseminating, and sharing knowledge about the use of FLOSS is central to our

praxis.


Expression


9 Amplifying feminist discourse

We claim the power of the internet to amplify women’s narratives and lived realities. There is a

need to resist the state, the religious right and other extremist forces who monopolise

discourses of morality, while silencing feminist voices and persecuting women’s human rights

defenders.


10 Freedom of expression

We defend the right to sexual expression as a freedom of expression issue of no less

importance than political or religious expression. We strongly object to the efforts of state and

non-state actors to control, surveil, regulate and restrict feminist and queer expression on the


internet through technology, legislation or violence. We recognise this as part of the larger

political project of moral policing, censorship, and hierarchisation of citizenship and rights.


11 Pornography and “harmful content”

We recognise that the issue of pornography online has to do with agency, consent, power and

labour. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content

and violence against women. We also reject the use of the umbrella term “harmful content” to

label expression on female and transgender sexuality. We support reclaiming and creating

alternative erotic content that resists the mainstream patriarchal gaze and locates women and

queer persons’ desires at the centre.


Agency


12 Consent

We call on the need to build an ethics and politics of consent into the culture, design, policies

and terms of service of internet platforms. Women’s agency lies in their ability to make informed

decisions on what aspects of their public or private lives to share online.


13 Privacy and data

We support the right to privacy and to full control over personal data and information online at all

levels. We reject practices by states and private companies to use data for profit and to

manipulate behaviour online. Surveillance is the historical tool of patriarchy, used to control and

restrict women’s bodies, speech and activism. We pay equal attention to surveillance practices

by individuals, the private sector, the state and non-state actors.


14 Memory

We have the right to exercise and retain control over our personal history and memory on the

internet. This includes being able to access all our personal data and information online, and to

be able to exercise control over this data, including knowing who has access to it and under

what conditions, and the ability to delete it forever.


15 Anonymity

We defend the right to be anonymous and reject all claims to restrict anonymity online.

Anonymity enables our freedom of expression online, particularly when it comes to breaking

taboos of sexuality and heteronormativity, experimenting with gender identity, and enabling

safety for women and queer persons affected by discrimination.


16 Children and youth

We call for the inclusion of the voices and experiences of young people in the decisions made

about safety and security online and promote their safety, privacy, and access to information.

We recognise children’s right to healthy emotional and sexual development, which includes the

right to privacy and access to positive information about sex, gender and sexuality at critical

times in their lives.


17 Online violence

We call on all internet stakeholders, including internet users, policy makers and the private

sector, to address the issue of online harassment and technology-related violence. The attacks,

threats, intimidation and policing experienced by women and queers are real, harmful and

alarming, and are part of the broader issue of gender-based violence. It is our collective

responsibility to address and end this.