Internet Policy Analyst (IPA) Launch  

IGMENA is pleased to announce the launch of the Internet Policy Analyst (IPA), a new section of devoted to original weekly writing by civic actors from the MENA region. Authors share original reporting and analysis in English and Arabic with a focus on Internet policy, governance, and related human rights issues.  The initial articles have been written by an exceptionally dedicated group of authors from the MENA region: Fadwa Ahmadi, Marwen Dhmayed, Sahar Ammar, Aicha Chebbi, Aymen Abderrahmen, Ahlem Ismail, Ayoub Abbous, Ahmed Zakaria, Hayder Al Shakeri, Wael Alkateb, Sahar Ammar and Kinan Alkhatib.

The Internet Policy Analysis initiative is designed to meet the increasing demand for expertise on Internet governance and policy in the MENA region by providing a platform for the growing number of civic actors represented by legal experts, Internet researcher and activists, journalist and policy analysts well-versed in these topics. The (IPA) empowers authors as leaders to promote their ideas on a range of issues, including online freedom of expression, data protection and privacy, censorship and surveillance. 

Hamza Ben Mehrez, Policy Analyst Lead for the IPA, has been the driving force behind the launch of this project. Mr. Ben Mehrez recently joined Hayet Toukebri on an English hour Radio session hosted by Radio Tunis Chaine Internationale / The International Service of Radio Tunis (RTCI) to discuss the IPA.

In the radio program, Mr. Ben Mehrez explained that there is a problem of digital culture in the Arab world. End-users are not always aware that the Internet is much more than Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. There can be real risks if users do not understand the technology. For example, when people in the Arab world create online accounts, they do not frequently read the terms of use for social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In the terms of use, there is a clause mentioning that your personal information online can be shared with a 'third party'.

Hamza Ben Mehrez also highlighted that in the Arab world there is a huge gap between policy and advocacy. Engineers and technology experts understand how the Internet is technically deployed, but there are few public policy makers who can explain to a general audience how the Internet functions from a policy perspective. The Internet Policy Analyst seeks to help bridge this gap.

During the interview, Mr. Ben Mehrez also put out a call for future contributors to the IPA, explaining that authors come from a range of academic and professional backgrounds. Writers do not need to have specialized technical skills to participate. It is preferable, but not required, for authors to enroll in the DiploFoudation Internet governance online course to get a deeper understanding of the topics covered in the project.

The IPA is still looking for new authors! Initially, the project focuses on five countries: Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq. It will soon grow to include more countries from the region. For more information about getting involved, please email [email protected]