By Carolina Botero
The year 2017 marked the consolidation of Karisma as a voice of Colombian civil society in the debates where technology and human rights meet. 2017 was a very important year for Karisma; it was a time of consolidation and the introduction of our new image.
One way of thinking about this moment for Karisma is to imagine it as a stage of youth, where one lives with a lot of energy, passion and vitality. This is how we see Karisma: a young organization full of expectations and dreams, that has been shaping its character, has found a voice of its own, and has secured its place in the community.
In 2017, for example, we raised our voice through our campaign No más celus vigilados (no more cell surveillance), and used a youthful and festive tone to show how a policy aimed at reducing cell phone theft is being implemented in a way that can be used as a massive surveillance tool, without considerations or guarantees for the protection of human rights.
Karisma has been shaping its character by identifying priorities and interests, under the firm conviction that we can change the world. Cognisant that change is far from easy, and will not happen overnight, we intend to work hard to achieve it. For example, Karisma has cultivated the habit of perseverance by monitoring the development of digital agenda and digital security policies in Colombia and in the region, commenting on each step governments take and lending support to other civil society organizations that haven’t yet addressed the challenges of digital technology.
Like any adolescent, Karisma has plenty of energy to explore and, although this sometimes comes at a cost, it is cultivating humility by recognizing that it does not know everything, and therefore holds fast to its willingness to listen and learn. In this process, it continues to strengthen its bonds with diverse communities and to develop pilot projects in social innovation and technology in order to better understand what is happening around it. Alone, and in partnership with others, Karisma has taken its voice to the Constitutional Court and various international organizations to raise a variety of issues, especially freedom of expression, privacy, and access to knowledge. Karisma today feels confident and secure to address gender issues and introduce them in every project and process it pursues.
Above all, Karisma reaffirmed its commitment to the idea that technology should be an instrument for the exercise of human rights and not a facilitator for their infringement. For that reason, it celebrates what is undoubtedly the great success of 2017: the acquittal of Diego Gómez after 4 years of unjust criminal prosecution. The Superior Court of Bogotá confirmed that it is not a crime to share knowledge in the manner Diego did, and that it is even a widespread, positive practice in his medium. Being able to say that we helped the setting of this precedent is a great joy for Karisma and for all of us who work here.
This report gathers all of these aspects and more. It showcases some of our work, reflects on our achievements and challenges during 2017, and provides a glimpse of the path that lies ahead. Karisma Foundation will continue to work so that the vision of technology users in Colombia is taken into account, so that policies don’t just focus on the perspective of the public and private sectors, but also that of academia, civil society, and the technical community. Above all, so that the exercise of our human rights is always part of the equation.
Thank you for joining us on this journey and get ready, because in 2018 we turn 15 and… We want to celebrate!