Choosing your Battle (Terrain):

Digital Rights Advocacy +

Capturing the Grounds of Debate



What is Framing?

  • Mental structures that shape how we see the world
  • Language that implies a built-in perspective
  • Phrases that bring your values to the forefront

Framing in Action

  • Taxes => “tax relief” (burden) vs.
    “civic duty” (investment)
  • Pensions => “extra pay” (bonus) vs.
    “withheld pay” (earned)
  • Zero-Rating => “free data” (benevolent) vs.
    “partial Internet” (subpar, inequality)
  • Encryption => “going dark” (illicit, clandestine) vs.
    “closing the door” (solitude, personal space)

Why it matters

  • Public discourse abhors a vacuum
  • Negating a frame still activates and reinforces the frame always use your own language, not theirs
  • Morals, values, and identity will always defeat facts, reason, logic, and self-interest
  • Prevent hypocognition
  • Frame it now, frame it often we are already behind

What can framing do?

“When we successfully reframe public discourse,
we change the way the public sees the world.
We change what counts as common sense.
Because language activates frames,
new language is required for new frames.
Thinking differently requires speaking differently.”

-George Lakoff

How do I use Frames?

  • Identify the underlying values and use that language
    (e.g., freedom, equality, fairness, community)
  • Say it in your own words and your own language.
    Keep the discussion on your terms (literally).
  • Be proactive, not reactive. Ask: What do we want to happen?
    Not: What do we need to fight off?
  • Consider frames with built-in ideas and conceptual natural extensions.
  • Say it now; say it often. We are already behind.

How to frame Zero Rating

The Canadian example

Clearly define goal, values.

Decide on language that is clear, evokes emotion.

Stick to that language.

Say it again. And again.

Topics for Working Groups

Group A - Online Behavioural Tracking

Group B - Stingray (IMSI) Surveillance

Group C - Border Search of Social Media Accounts

Group D - Phone Encryption

Group E - Online Content Filters for Copyright

Group F - Copyright Term Extensions

Group G - Court-ordered Link Takedowns

Group H - Google & Facebook Tax for News

How to win on digital rights - Google Slides