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Member News: Innovative Projects to Help Close the Digital Divide

Vote of Confidence: Voting is open for Chapterthon 2019, the global Internet Society Chapters marathon, where Chapters can develop projects within a timeline and budget to achieve a common goal for the development of the Internet. This year’s theme is Connecting the Unconnected. Twenty-eight Chapters – from Argentina to Zimbabwe – have submitted projects.

Keep the connections: The Venezuela Chapter is among several groups calling for large technology companies to maintain the availability of their services to Venezuelans. While an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to block support for the government of Nicolás Maduro, the order does not ban the Internet and other technology services from serving the nation, the chapter notes. Access to the Internet and online services is “critical” because it brings access to independent news and allows citizens to express their opinions, the chapter said.

Trading chips: The Washington, D.C., Chapter recently hosted a conference on digital trade, including the impact of some nations’ policies that require data to be stored locally. “Data has become the most traded good and/or service across borders,” the Chapter said. “Meanwhile, many countries have adopted policies that inhibit digital trade, including requirements that data be stored locally or restricting services provided by foreign firms. Such policies not only affect U.S. Internet and technology firms, but the users and small businesses that rely on an open digital environment.”

A big party: The Spain Chapter helped organize the Tech.Party.2019 events, attracting more than 700 participants. Topics included cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, free hardware, renewable energy, and recycling. At one conference, the Internet Society’s Raquel Gatto talked about how encryption is under threat worldwide, with governments asking for backdoor access to encrypted communications.

Indigenous representation: The New York City chapter recently hosted a discussion on how Indigenous people are represented on Wikipedia. Columbia University School of Social Work’s Sophia Leveque talked about ways to make the online encyclopedia more inclusive.

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