Palestra: The Spectrum of Power
How spectrum management determines who controls our digital security and expression of human rights
The vast majority of the Internet’s infrastructure is owned, operated, and managed by a small number of private companies that have repeatedly undermined people’s security, privacy and human rights. Due to this increasing concentration of power, it’s become more important than ever for communities to understand how such infrastructure is operated and take control of their own infrastructure. But to do so requires access to the electromagnetic spectrum that makes wireless communication possible. As governments set policies and regulations for spectrum management that continue to give tech giants greater access to spectrum at costs to community and non-profit network operators, it’s clear that to protect our security, privacy, and freedom of expression, digital rights activists need to better understand the state of spectrum management policy and how to influence its development. This session will demystify these dynamics and identify opportunities for collective action.
This session will feature a panel of civil society advocates that have worked on spectrum management policy at the national and international levels. The session will begin with a presentation from the panelists for 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the audience for the final 30 minutes.
The goals of this session will be to:
1. present a critical perspective about the electromagnetic spectrum, its historical construction and usage by States and private companies, focusing in its control over information.
2. explain why access to spectrum is relevant to infrastructural sovereignty, and how greater control over our infrastructure is necessary to advance digital security, privacy, and freedom of expression;
2. debate how the current state of increasing Internet centralization and market concentration is affecting people’s ability to access spectrum and build their own networks, looking at the recent practices of tech giants such as Google and Microsoft as case studies, and;
3. explain the state of spectrum management in Brazil and the position of its national telecommunications regulator, ANATEL, and identify how we can influence policy development at the national level.
Although this session will focus on policy and regulation, it will be relevant to both technical and non-technical audiences that are interested in connectivity, infrastructural sovereignty, and human rights.