Anri Van der Spuy

Anri Van der Spuy

PhD Researcher

Department of Media and Communications

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Key Expertise
Internet Governance, Digital policy, Digital inequality, Digital risk

About me

Research topic

Digital inequality in the global South: from an Internet of Opportunity to an Internet of Risk?

The ability to participate in online environments is generally assumed to be a positive development for everyone everywhere – and perhaps even inherently so. But what if the digital inclusion imperative could contribute to a digital divide paradox where vulnerable communities could become more, not less, disadvantaged and unequal? If access to this Internet of Risk is promoted as a development prerogative of ‘leaving no one behind’, are we simultaneously exposing people in general and less (digitally) prepared countries in the global South in particular to further risk and inequality?Using a hybrid research approach that draws on Ulrich Beck’s World Risk Society theory, the PhD project aims to contribute to a more realistic understanding of the implications of digital inclusion for diverse developmental contexts by investigating whether, how, and with what existing policy processes and instruments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region deal with risk. It will thereby explore the relationship between individual, communal and societal risks within the global South, and will contribute to policymaking both in the SADC region and more generally.

Supervisors: Prof Robin Mansell and Prof Ellen Helsper


Anri has an interdisciplinary background in law, journalism, communications governance, digital policy and development. Before starting her PhD, she managed Research ICT Africa’s Digital Policy Project as a senior researcher, where she is still a senior associate. An admitted attorney (lawyer) with expertise in media law, Anri previously received an MSc degree (distinction) in Media and Communications Governance from LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. In her native South Africa, Anri also completed an MPhil in Media, Democracy and Development (cum laude), a BPhil (honours) in Journalism, and an LLB (law) degree at the University of Stellenbosch. 

She has consulted on Internet and digital policy challenges, with a development focus, to various United Nations and intergovernmental agencies (including UNESCO, the UN Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum, the UN Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank); for stakeholders participating in processes/fora like the G20 and G7; for Internet-focused and related entities like the Internet Society and ICANN; and for global NGOs specialising in communications governance challenges.

Anri is an associate of both the CyberBRICS initiative and the Fairwork Project (based at the Oxford Internet Institute); and serves on the advisory boards of the Freedom Online Coalition and Christchurch Call process respectively.

Expertise Details

Internet Governance; Digital or Cyber Policy; Digital Inequality; Digital Risk.


Books and reports:

Souter, D. & Van der Spuy, A.(2019) UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators: a framework for assessing Internet development. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: (also available in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.)

Van der Spuy, A. & Souter, D. (2018, September) Women’s Digital Inclusion: Background Paper for the G20. Geneva: APC & the Internet Society. Retrieved from:

Souter, D. & Van der Spuy, A. (2018, March) W20 Digital Inclusion Background Paper. London: GSMA. Available from:

Van der Spuy, A. & Aavriti, N. (2018, January) Mapping Research in Gender and Digital Technology. Ottawa: IDRC & APC. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2017) What if we all governed the Internet? Advancing Multistakeholder Participation in Internet Governance. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from:

Souter, D. & Van der Spuy, A. (2017, March) UN Broadband Commission Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide: Recommendations for Action. Geneva: ITURetrieved from:

Researcher, writer, editor and/or rapporteur for various IGF intersessional activities, including best practice forum on Gender (2016; 2017), Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s) – Phase II (2016).


Journals, conference papers and policy briefs:

Gillwald, A. & Van der Spuy, A. (2019) National digital governance for more equitable access to the Internet as global public good. MISTRA: Democracy in South Africa – the next 25 years (forthcoming).

Van der Spuy, A.; Brown, I.; Calandro, E. & Oolun, K. (2018, October) Collaborative Cybersecurity: the Mauritius case. Research ICT Africa Policy Brief: Africa Digital Policy. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. & Oolun, K. (2018) Promoting cybersecurity through stronger collaboration in Africa. Policy Brief prepared for CPR South, Maputo (Mozambique), September 2018. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2016). Review of: Cyberwar: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts, edited by Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern and Claire Finkelstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Global Policy Journal. Retrieved from:


Journalistic entries

Van der Spuy, A. (2019, May 20) The Christchurch Call could potentially be used to clamp down on legitimate political dissent in Africa. The Daily Maverick. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2018, May 10) Facebook revelations: with greater connectivity comes greater responsibility (2018, May). The Daily Maverick. Retrieved from:

Gillwald, A.; Van der Spuy, A.; Graham, M.; Woodcock, J. & Englert, S. (2019, April 11). Fairwork exposes exploitation in gig economy amid regulatory vacuum. Business Day. Retrieved from:


Blog entries:

Van der Spuy, A. (2019, August 5) How do we tackle children’s risks without sacrificing their opportunities. Africa Portal. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2019, July 2) Uber, Uber on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Africa Portal. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2018, May 17). Facebook revelations: With greater connectivity comes greater responsibility. LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2017, November 09). What if we all governed the Internet? Or what if we didn’t? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2017, February 22). Escaping walled gardens: is the grass greener on the other side? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2016, January 22). Who will be invited to the fourth industrial revolution? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. & Gahnberg, C. (2015, May 1). Welcoming a UN special rapporteur to the Online Human Rights Choir. LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. & Magalhães, J.C. (2014, June 30) ICANN50: Just Olympics for Geeks or Steps towards Global Governance? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2014, March 3). Open Justice and Pistorius’ Pandora’s Box. LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2013, December 19). Contempt of Court vs. the Internet: UK Law Commission’s Recommendations. LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

Van der Spuy, A. (2013, November 7). Is Online Participation a Prerequisite for Participating in Society? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:

 Van der Spuy, A. & Goodman, E. (2013, December 2) The Leveson Report Anniversary: A Celebration or a Commemoration? LSE Media Policy Project. Retrieved from:


Editor of WSIS+10 series for LSE Media Policy Project (2015), including the following posts: