In 2023, Advocacy Assembly's Shutdown Academy made significant progress in advancing digital rights and combating internet shutdowns globally. We are proud to share with you the key milestones and initiatives that shaped our year, highlighting the activities that we have done over the past year.
At the beginning of this year, we made an effort to break language barriers and added three new languages - Portuguese, Swahili, and French - to our website. By expanding our language options, we can now offer all of our courses and materials in seven languages, allowing us to reach a wider audience.
One of our achievements in 2023 was the launch of all ten courses in the Shutdown Academy, which are now available in seven languages. This achievement was a significant step toward making our content accessible to everyone and empowering advocates worldwide.
The introduction of the Mentored Training Program faced an overwhelming response, with over 1,060 applications from 135 countries. This was an interactive 7-week program to equip leaders and activists with skills to fight back against shutdowns. The program's success has led us to announce its return from February through April 2024. Please check this link for further information.
Advocacy Assembly's Shutdown Academy attended RightsCon 2023 and was featured in partner sessions such as OONI, IODA and Access Now.
As a part of the Mentored Training Program, we organised two expert sessions. One of them was about strategic litigation against internet shutdowns, which explored the challenges and opportunities involved in strategic litigation. The other session was called "A Discussion on Safely Using Satphones" and focused on the increasing need for secure communication alternatives in times of ongoing internet shutdowns due to conflicts and government surveillance. It emphasised the importance of using satellite phones safely to establish communication links with the outside world, especially during prolonged shutdowns.
In 2023, we collaborated with Iran Open Data to launch two Farsi courses on data journalism designed specifically for the Iranian audience. These two courses show the data journalists or the enthusiasts of this field how to find, work and make a story out of the data they find online on Iran websites.
Our involvement in the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica 2023), included hosting a workshop about the Shutdown Academy and practical strategies to combat internet shutdowns. This engagement allowed us to connect with advocates in Dar-E-Salaam, contributing to a collective effort against any internet disruptions.
Advocacy Assembly published two toolkits in 2023—the first toolkit focused on legal guidance regarding internet restrictions and shutdowns in Africa. The second one, which was developed by Access Now "The Return of the Digital Authoritarianism", is now available in all seven languages, including Swahili, Portuguese, and French.
As we look back on the achievements of 2023, Advocacy Assembly is preparing for an even more significant year ahead. Keep an eye out for the second Mentored Training Program and also our upcoming toolkit, which will explore the economic impact of internet shutdowns. Together, we will continue to support digital rights and strive towards a more open and connected world.