The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a partnership of 34 countries working together to advance Internet freedom worldwide, in March 2022 admitted seven new members to its Advisory Network (AN), forming the third cohort that will serve from 2022 to 2024.
The FOC’s Advisory Network was established to enhance the Coalition’s multi-stakeholder engagement, including through providing advice on aims, objectives and activities of the Coalition, as well as to support its mission of advancing Internet freedom and human rights online.
The new members are joining 23 representatives from civil society, academia and the private sector currently serving on the AN.
The new members, who were admitted to the AN following a successful open-call for applications, are Ms Allie Funk, a Senior Research Analyst for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House; Ms Berhan Taye, an Independent Researcher, Analyst and Facilitator and Senior Advisor at Internews’ Greater Internet Freedom (GIF) Project; and Ms Fiona M. Alexander, a Distinguished Policy Strategist in Residence in the School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow at the Internet Governance Lab of the American University.
Others are Helen Harris, Manager, Public Policy at Amazon; Ms Liz Orembo, Communication and Engagement Officer at the Global Cybersecurity Capacity Centre (GCSCC) based at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science; Ms Mehwish Ansari, Head of Digital at ARTICLE 19; and Mr. Sebastian Smart, Regional Director at the Chilean National Human Rights Institution and a lecturer at Universidad Austral de Chile.
They were selected by the incumbent AN members in consultation with the FOC Friends of the Chair through an open application process administered by the FOC Support Unit. The selection process was guided by stakeholder group balance, gender balance, geographic balance, commitment to the values of the FOC and relevant expertise.
Welcoming the new members of the AN, the FOC acknowledged the outgoing members from the second cohort, saying they played a key role in supporting the work of the FOC through their participation in the AN.
The FOC was established in 2011 at the inaugural Freedom Online Conference held in The Hague, The Netherlands, under the auspices of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and currently has 34 members spread across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.
The FOC-AN was subsequently established following the sixth Freedom Online Conference held in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 2016, where the Coalition identified as a priority the need to create a strong mechanism for ongoing multi-stakeholder engagement. The FOC-AN was therefore created to play that role through regular engagement with FOC governments.
It serves as a key mechanism for the Coalition to engage regularly with non-governmental Internet stakeholders. It is envisaged as a platform for multistakeholder dialogue which, independently of FOC members, provides advice to FOC governments on the work of the FOC, organises multistakeholder collaboration around FOC activities, and explores possibilities for cooperation to advance human rights online.
Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), has been a member of the FOC-AN since its inception.