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[liberationtech] SECDEV: Focus on cyber security, empowerment and transnational crime in Latin America

Rafal Rohozinski r.rohozinski at
Wed Jun 6 13:25:29 PDT 2012

Dear Libtech colleagues,

We are  pleased to announce the launch of a new initiative examining the nexus between cyber security, development, and empowerment in Latin America. The Open Empowerment project is a joint venture between The SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Igarapé Institute (Brazil), supported by the International Development Research Centre (Canada). The aim of the project is to develop policy-relevant and evidence-based research on empowerment, security, development, and governance of cyberspace across the Latin America region.
The 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ showcased the power of networked political movements. Yet in Latin America, cyber empowerment is more economically inclined - and often exhibits a darker side. Political movements, youth gangs and narco-cartels are leveraging cyberspace in ways that challenge state authority and often target individuals. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media are a new battlespace in some countries such as Mexico. Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina are contending with increasing levels of online crime. 
The challenges in Latin America are likely to get worse before they get better. The region features some of the fastest growth in internet use in the world. It also has one of the most youthful populations online on the planet. How states respond to the threats of cybercrime - whether through security sector, economic and political, or legal reform - will generate significant impacts in a region whose populations are increasingly mobilizing through social media.

The first publication of the Open Empowerment project, "A Fine Balance: Mapping Cyber (In)security in Latin America," sets out the scale of the threat and the types of responses deployed by Latin American states and societies as they seek to balance cyber security with cyber rights. Future research will concentrate on the interface of violence, internet communications technologies and mobilization in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and across Central America. The paper is available for download at:

The Open Empowerment project was kicked off at a workshop held in Rio de Janeiro on May 29, which coincided with RightsCon, a major conference that assembled activists, politicians and security officials from across Latin America. An article covering the event and featuring findings from "A Fine Balance" appeared in Brazil's leading newspaper, and can be accessed at the link below.

Please do not hesitate to contact The SecDev Group for further information about this project.

Rafal Rohozinski
Principal, The SecDev Group
Robert Muggah
Principal, The SecDev Group
Research Director, Igarapé Institute

The SecDev Group

World Exchange Plaza
45 O'Connor Street, Suite 1150
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4

Office: +1 (613) 755-4007

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