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About Internet Society

Nominations Open! Jonathan B. Postel Service Award 2020

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to Internet development?

Nominate them for this year’s Jonathan B. Postel Service Award!

Each year, the Internet Society presents the prestigious award to an individual or organization that, like Jon Postel, has made significant contributions to the technological development of the Internet.

The award commemorates Jon Postel’s extraordinary stewardship in the course of his 30-year career in networking.

The chosen candidate will be presented with a USD20,000 honorarium and the signature crystal engraved globe at a global conference with Internet technical leaders later this year.

Previous award winners include Steven Huter for fostering local Internet communities globally, Kimberly Claffy for her contribution to Internet measurement, Kanchana Kanchanasut for accelerating Internet development in Thailand, and Nii Quaynor for driving the spread of the Internet across Africa.

Special emphasis is placed on candidates who have supported and enabled others in addition to their own contributions.

Help us recognize the extraordinary people who have committed themselves to the technological development, growth, and strength of the Internet!

Submit a nomination!

Nomination period ends on 12 June 2020. For questions, email postel@isoc.org.


Image of Community Network Champions ©Atul Loke/Panos Pictures for the Internet Society.

Categories
Encryption Strengthening the Internet

Kids Need Encryption Too

With most of the world on lockdown, children are likely spending more time than ever online. Between virtual classrooms and keeping up with friends on social media, many kids are depending on the Internet to maintain a semblance of normal life amidst the global health crisis.

While parents may worry about how this might affect their children’s well-being, experts have warned that the surge in screen time could also expose kids to safety risks online more often.

In Asia-Pacific, a recent UNICEF report found that 32% of children between 10 to 17 years old in Bangladesh have faced cyberbullying, violence, and harassment online. Meanwhile, a McAfee study in India found that 70% of youngsters have posted their personal details on the Internet, making them an easy target for cybercriminals.

Earlier this month, the Internet Society ran a short webinar, Kids, the Internet and COVID-19, to show parents how they can protect their kids’ privacy and security online through encryption.

Encryption is a way of ‘scrambling’ information to make it unreadable to malicious actors who might want to access it, and works much like the codes that we used as children to send secret messages to each other – but better. Encryption protects our emails, our online messages, and even our bank details – a critical safeguard as cyber attacks grow amidst the pandemic.

One of the most important things a parent can do to keep their kids secure is to choose only messaging apps that are end-to-end encrypted, such as Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram. They should also only visit websites that show a lock icon by the URL, which tells you that the page, and the information you send and receive, have been encrypted. It’s just as crucial to teach kids to set long and strong passwords – this can be sentences that combine letters, numbers, and symbols, for their online accounts and their devices.

Three years ago, 90% of young people surveyed by UNESCO felt they should be given the right tools to protect themselves on the Internet. And yet, some governments are threatening to take away one of their strongest tools to do so.

As we raise the next generation of able and responsible netizens, let’s make sure kids can keep using encryption as a protective shield to keep themselves safe and secure online.

If you would like more tips on how to keep children safe online amidst COVID-19, please watch our webinar, now available on our Facebook and YouTube channels.

Want to join a global movement of people working to make sure governments don’t take away our strongest digital tools to keep ourselves and our children safe online? Become an Internet Society member today.

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Internet Governance Public Policy Shaping the Internet's Future

Lessons Learned from the Multistakeholder Process in the Philippines

In 2018, we began collaborating with the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to develop the country’s National ICT Ecosystem Framework (NICTEF), a successor to the Philippine Digital Strategy for 2011-2016.

The DICT, like all Philippine government agencies, is mandated by law to hold open consultations as a means of improving transparency and encouraging public involvement in the policymaking process. But it took this initiative further by ensuring that NICTEF is fully reflective of the needs and priorities of different sectors across the archipelago. For one year, the DICT led capacity building workshops, focus group discussions, writeshops, an online public survey, and regional consultations in each of the country’s major island groups, localizing the multistakeholder approach in the process to reach important and difficult decisions.

The NICTEF is now an authoritative guide on the Philippines’ digital ecosystem, and a roadmap to harmonize and coordinate the country’s ICT programs. The multistakeholder process adopted by NICTEF has been documented in a case study, offering other countries in the region a reference in developing public policies that are forward-thinking, inclusive, and suited to the needs of a steadily-interconnected world.

Below are some of our key takeaways from the process:

Develop and clearly present a value proposition to ensure that the multistakeholder process is productive and outcome driven.

In invitations and announcements, it is helpful to clearly specify to stakeholders why they should participate and what they would gain from their involvement in the policymaking process. This would help organizations identify appropriate representatives to take part in consultations and enable them to prepare their inputs.

Build strategic and sustainable partnerships for the implementation of a collaborative, multistakeholder model.

The multistakeholder model needs to be a continuous and sustainable process rather than a one-time initiative. For example, the DICT found it effective to initiate discussions with the policy and planning division of other government agencies. This division is most likely to be familiar with the overall direction, as well as the deliverables of each ministry, and would be able to provide guidance on possible collaboration and relevant divisions that may be tapped to contribute to the NICTEF.

Conduct face-to-face consultations at the regional level to hear from the countryside and harder-to-reach stakeholders.

Working with its regional and provincial offices, the DICT conducted public consultations across the country to reach out to each island group and accommodate different levels of development, priorities, and perspectives.

Tailor the multistakeholder process to the culture of the country.

In many Asian cultures, individuals tend to be reluctant to speak up when senior or governmental personnel are in the room. There is therefore a need to offer multiple ways for individuals to voice their concerns, even anonymously through surveys.

Focus on the entire ICT ecosystem, not just what the government or the ICT sector is doing.

A crucial part of ICT policymaking is identifying existing gaps in different sectors where policy interventions might be useful. To reach individual companies and organizations, DICT engaged with industry and professional bodies, such as the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators and the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines. Discussions and consultations were open to all and were announced online on government websites and social media sites.

Previous ICT policymaking exercises focused on governmental efforts in the ICT sector. NICTEF, however, is a national framework for the entire ecosystem of stakeholders to work collaboratively. It represents what the people of the Philippines collectively want for the country, and within this framework, the role that government can play.

Read A Multi-Stakeholder Model in ICT Policymaking: Case Study from the Philippines.

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Internet Governance Shaping the Internet's Future

Asia-Pacific ICT Ministers Focus on Co-Creating the Future of the Internet

In June, ICT ministers across Asia-Pacific got together in Singapore to decide on the direction of ICT development in the region. At the end of the three-day gathering, leaders adopted the Singapore Statement of the Asia-Pacific ICT Ministers on Co-creating a Connected Digital Future in the Asia-Pacific, a set of high-level policy guidelines that will set the tone for activities of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) in the next five years. 
The Singapore Statement is significant in that it fortifies the principles that underpin a conducive environment for the digital economy to thrive:

  • It reinforces support for the multistakeholder approach, with states highlighting their own efforts to make ICT policy processes more inclusive during the meeting.
  • It renews its commitment to foster digital communities through collaborative projects to connect unserved and underserved areas.
  • It makes explicit references to interoperability and the free and secure flow of information online, putting equal weight on protecting users’ privacy.

It is particularly encouraging to see that amidst the race to capitalize on the vast amounts of data collected from us and our online activities, ICT Ministers opted to focus on trust –  built on accountability, transparency, and ethics – as a fundamental pillar in the region’s digital future, one that will enable users to fully explore the potential of the Internet to improve their lives.

The APT, borne out of a treaty-based initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the International Telecommunication Union, has come a long way since it was conceived four decades ago. It has made tremendous progress in harmonizing member states’ policies, facilitating cross-border cooperation, and amplifying the region’s voice in global policy fora.

Since the last Ministerial Meeting five years ago, APT has supported numerous pilot projects to connect remote island communities in the Pacific, strengthened policymakers’ capacity through training courses on Internet Governance, and ensured the participation of small island developing states and landlocked developing countries in international policy discussions.

The APT’s role has never been more relevant: It oversees a region that is home to 60% of the world’s population and accounts for two-thirds of global economic growth. It also has a growing number of tech giants – some of which are among the most valuable companies globally. Yet, there is no denying that vast disparities in ICT and Internet development persist.

With APT’s guidance, the region has begun, in a coordinated manner, to move from coverage to providing meaningful Internet access, and empowering marginalized and vulnerable sectors through accessibility tools and relevant content. It is also heartening to see more and more nation states invest in equipping citizens with the skills and means to protect themselves in cyberspace, recognizing that digital literacy entails much more than knowing how to type and transact online.

International agreements of late have increasingly focused on risks and threats, with a growing number of countries asserting greater control over content, businesses, and activities online. The Singapore Statement makes a confident bid for a positive future, charting a path that will make Asia-Pacific an even bigger force to be reckoned with.

Image ©Engin Akyurt

Categories
Internet of Things (IoT)

2018 Survey on Policy in Asia-Pacific: We Need to Do Something About IoT Security

Earlier this year, we asked Internet users across Asia-Pacific just how secure they thought their smart gadgets were. The findings, gathered from 950 respondents in 22 economies, yielded some interesting insights. Over half of those polled lack confidence that IoT devices are sufficiently secure. A similar percentage feel that they do not have enough information on the security of their device.

As connected devices move into our personal spaces – homes, offices and our bodies – amassing more and more data about us and our activities at a dizzying pace, our report, published last week, highlights how much work still needs to be done to build trust in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.

Asia-Pacific is undoubtedly a major area of growth for the IoT industry, with countries like China and India rapidly becoming some of the biggest markets for consumer IoT devices. We are also a formidable producer, with established brands like Xiaomi and Samsung churning out wearables, smart appliances, and virtual assistants, and numerous startups joining the fray.

Indeed, the report found that a substantial number of respondents already own IoT devices, with a further 73% planning to purchase an IoT device in the next 12 months. But this enthusiasm can’t conceal the fact that most IoT devices land on our shelves without adequate security and privacy safeguards, making them vulnerable to information leaks and attacks by cybercriminals. Incidents like the Mirai botnet in 2016, which essentially exploited unsecure CCTVs whose default passwords hadn’t been changed, gave us a preview of things to come. Connected toys listening in on conversations at home, or smart speakers that can make online purchases without the owner’s knowledge, were just some of the security flaws exposed by researchers this year.

And consumers are waking up to these risks: More than two-thirds of survey participants worry about hackers gaining access or taking control of their devices and personal information. A similar percentage are concerned about personal data leaks and being monitored without their knowledge or consent.

Security certainly is a shared responsibility – users also need to take steps to keep their devices secure. But as we found in the survey, there are currently not enough tools available for them to do this. For instance, over 70% of respondents would like the option to delete the data collected by the device, and to know more about how it is used and who it is shared with, overall demanding more control over their personal information.

This task falls primarily on device manufacturers and IoT service providers. Significantly, nine in ten respondents would like for security and privacy protections to come as standard across all IoT devices, with two-in-three respondents citing this as a key factor that would influence their purchasing decision.

For governments, one of the ways to steer industry in the right direction is to promote the use of trustmarks – visible indicators to signal that a product abides by a set of security standards. This is already a widespread practice in the food sector (e.g., fair trade) and among electronics and equipment suppliers (e.g., energy star). Tellingly, more than 90% of respondents stated that they are likely to purchase IoT devices that have a security guarantee (through a trustmark or certification label).

The connected environment promises convenience, efficiency, and unimaginable insight, and we are only just skimming the surface of its potential. Unsurprisingly, IoT is set to reach an important milestone next year, with consumer IoT devices exceeding the global population for the first time. It is a remarkable growth – one that is surpassed only by the threats that are increasingly tailored to exploit its weaknesses.

The connected future is here. Let’s make sure it’s secure. #GetIoTSmart

Categories
Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Public Policy

Net users in APAC want to participate in Internet policymaking

Governments in Asia-Pacific have made progress in opening up avenues for public input, but a new study by the Asia-Pacific Bureau suggests that stakeholders want more. The 2015 Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Survey, which collected the views of 3,302 Internet users from different sectors across the region, found that 87% of respondents would like their government to provide greater opportunities for them to be involved in Internet policymaking.

The same number stated that they care about Internet affairs in their own country, but only 28% rated themselves as having good or very good understanding of Internet policymaking processes. Some 90% agreed that policymakers also need a better understanding of Internet issues, with a further 82%  indicating that they were not fully satisfied with their government’s policies regarding the Internet. Such views are valuable as the Internet’s growing applicability to everyday life is expected to result in more states seeking to implement rules and regulations relating to cyberspace.

Governments in particular are seen to have a crucial role in enabling Internet access: some 99% of respondents thought that universal broadband access policies are integral in expanding Internet connectivity to under-served populations; and more than three-fourths believed that states should invest in developing Internet infrastructure, improving Internet speeds and making the Internet more affordable.

The report, released yesterday, found that connectivity continues to be the topmost concern among survey participants, with data protection, e-commerce, over-the-top services and cloud computing also ranking high on users’ radar. These priorities reflect the swiftly maturing online environment in Asia-Pacific. While many developing countries continue to grapple with slow and expensive Internet access, several emerging ones, including India and Indonesia, are also experiencing double-digit growth in Internet penetration. More developed economies like Japan, South Korea and Australia have at least three quarters of their population online, giving rise to policy concerns that are more often associated with increasing Internet ubiquity and utility.

The survey also took a closer look at cybersecurity, an area of growing concern in the region. The issue remains among the top 10 policy topics of interest among respondents, but with some caveats. Notably, 70% of survey participants felt that cybersecurity and civil liberties are equally important. And while 95% felt that government policies for cybersecurity are necessary, an equal number thought that online privacy protection should likewise be guaranteed by national law.

Download the full 2015 Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Survey report here.