Member in the Spotlight: Xnet
EDRi's member Xnet is an activist project working and proposing advanced solutions in fields related to digital rights and networked democracy.
This is the twentieth article of the series “EDRi member in the Spotlight” in which our members have the opportunity to introduce themselves and their work in depth.
1. Who are you and what is your organisation’s goal and mission?
Xnet is an activist project working and proposing advanced solutions in fields related to digital rights and networked democracy such as: freedom of expression; net neutrality; digital privacy; the free circulation of culture, knowledge and information; mechanisms for transparency, participation and citizen control of power and institutions; the defence of citizen journalism for their right to knowledge, to inform and be informed; the technical, communications and legal fight against corruption; and the technopolitics understood as the practice of networking and taking action for citizen empowerment, justice and social transformation.
Xnet also engages in political lobbying, frequently publishes legislative recommendations to ensure that local, regional, Spanish and European regulations are respectful of civil rights and freedoms in the digital domain, and actively creates, promotes and participates in advocacy campaigns.
2. How did it all begin, and how did your organisation develop its work?
Founded in 2008, as eXgae (changing its name in 2010 due to brand and competition concerns of the SGAE, the main Spanish society of Authors and Publishers), in order to fight the abuses of the SGAE, Xnet developed its expertise in the field of digital rights and proposed new models of democracy in the digital age.
From 2008 until 2013, Xnet continued the work in these fields, organised the annual oXcars, a non-competitive awards ceremony, which put the spotlight on projects created in different art disciplines based on the paradigm of free culture, and the FCForum (from 2009 to 2015), an international arena in which organisations and experts in the field of free internet and culture work towards creating a global strategic framework for action and coordination.
In 2011, Xnet’s headquarters have been in Barcelona.
Between 2012 and 2020, Xnet created the digital device 15MPARATO (that started the “Bankia Case” which led to the conviction of Rodrigo Rato, former Minister of Economy and former president of the International Monetary Fund, and 64 other people from other political parties. One of the successes of the project was the public disclosure of the “Blesa emails”.
Since then, Xnet opens secure and anonymous Globaleaks boxes for NGOs and for more than dozens of institutions such as the City Council of Barcelona, introducing the defence of encryption and anonymity in the public administration in Spain and actively contributes to the whistleblower’s Directive.
In 2019, Xnet leads a postdegree course on Technopolitics and the Rights in the Digital Era at the University of Barcelona. Xnet creates a system and promotes a piece of law to fight disinformation without threatening free speech and the internet. It is published as a book, “#FakeYou: Governments, political parties, mass media, corporations, great fortunes: monopolies of information manipulation and threats on freedom of expression“, that will be soon be translated into English.
Since 2019, Xnet has designed a Plan for Democratic Digitalization of Education, a privacy-friendly alternatives to the GAFAM suites for Education and it is carrying out an implementation of a prototype of it for several schools, while it fights for political change in Spain. The prototype is put in place with the collaboration of the Barcelona City Council and the Consorci de Educació.
In 2020, Xnet publishes a report on Institutionalised Abuses in Privacy and Data Protection and starts several actions to put an end to those abuses.
3. The biggest opportunity created by advancements in information and communication technology is…
4. The biggest threat created by advancements in information and communication technology is…
Surveillance and profiling to change and control our behaviours.
5. Which are the biggest victories/successes/achievements of your organisation?
We have always been proud of our campaigns based on the publication of our reports and documentation exposing inequalities that affect the general public. Our successful recent actions have been related to:
- Disinformation: We have put a lot of effort into showing how so-called “hate speech” and fake news and disinformation are being used as an excuse to curtail freedom of information. Among others, we have published “#FakeYou – Fake News and Disinformation. Governments, political parties, the mass media, corporations, and fortunes: monopolies of the manipulations of the information and threats on freedom of expression”. This report and book have led to the design of an innovative and practical legislative proposal against disinformation online and offline in the defence of democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms.
- Digital rights, reporting institutional abuses and e-governance: Xnet has exposed several inequalities and abuses by public institutions and big tech related to fundamental rights and freedoms. Our recent actions include:
- Proposals on Privacy and Data Protection against Institutionalised Abuses – Transparency for institutions, privacy for the people. These include reforms of data policies to correct the asymmetry and lack of protection of people against institutions and companies. This led to two complaints before the European Commission related to the lack of effective adaptation of the data minimisation principle and the lack of conciliation between personal data protection and freedom of expression and information in Spanish legislation.
- We launched a Plan for the Privacy and Democratic Digitalisation of Schools to stop the penetration of GAFAM in education and already set up a prototype working in 4 schools. We continue to look for additional schools.
- We use networked digital devices to dismantle abuses and corruption in institutions: our device 15Mparato has not only convicted dozens of politicians and bankers, but has also permitted people scammed by the banks to recover over 9 billions euros with interest.
6. If your organisation could now change one thing in your country, what would that be?
Patronage and incompetence in the institutions.
7. What is the biggest challenge your organisation is currently facing in your country?
Same like previous :).
8. How can one get in touch with you if they want to help as a volunteer, or donate to support your work?