Exploring the Bottom-Up Constitutionalism of the ‘Feminist Principles of the Internet’
21 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 15, 2018
Digital constitutionalism has been developed as a term that describes a conversation around fundamental rights and principles regarding the digital world. Initiatives of digital constitutionalism are often led by civil society networks that aim to entrench a set of rights and principles into a transnational constitutional order. Based on a single-case study methodology and an analysis of qualitative data, this paper explores one particular document of digital constitutionalism: the Feminist Principles of the Internet. The Feminist Principles, produced by feminist and digital rights activists from the Global South, have been translated into a number of local initiatives and introduced into national policy arenas. Conceptualizing this as “bottom-up” constitutionalism, the paper investigates the entire lifespan of the document from its genesis starting in 2014 to more recent activism based on the document. Remarkably, low levels of conflict characterize the making of the document and its operationalization, with the sustained mobilization of the network that formed around it being another key characteristic. Nonetheless, the translation of the coalition’s aims does fare better in some contexts than others, facing significant burdens to enter the crucial tech development domain.
Keywords: Digital constitutionalism; digital rights advocacy; Feminist Principles of the Internet; bottom-up constitutionalism; transnational advocacy networks
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