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Building Trust Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

2016: Confronting the Promise and the Challenge of a Global, Open Internet: Connection AND Security

Happy New Year to all!

2015 was a big year for the Internet Society. The graphic we published earlier this week provides only a glimpse of the hours, effort and impact of our collective work. ISOC has worked tirelessly to strengthen its community and organize itself through the power and reach of the Internet. We have advanced Internet technology around the world while upholding the principles we cherish; and we have advocated–and won–at least for an Internet minute– the argument that a multistakeholder, distributed model of Internet governance is the right means of achieving the global and local benefits of the Internet. Through our focused messaging, we made significant progress in highlighting the Internet of Opportunity, the 21st Century door to possibility.

Connection. Community. Sustainability. Access. Trust.

These gains are crucial to the challenges that lie ahead. Well done! to the staff, Chapters, Organizational members and friends of the Internet Society around the world who worked together to make 2015 a resounding success.

And now, as we turn to a new year, we must recommit ourselves, ever more urgently, to our core mission: to ensure that the door to opportunity is unlocked everywhere, for everyone and to make sure it stays both OPEN and SECURE. The stability and future of the Internet depends on what we do now, in 2016.

The agreement at the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was a victory for the power of the multistakeholder consensus building effort, resulting in international agreement that the way in which we meet these goals is through the transnational, distributed, bottom-up model that has worked to bring the Internet to fruition in so much of the world.

But the challenge before us is to make that model work for the people who live in more than half of the world who do not yet have access to the Internet and, frankly, to address the most potent threat to its advancement–erosion of trust. That erosion has been brought about by the very growth of the power of connection and by the accumulation of massive amounts of data. Actions on the part of some governments, commercial enterprises and nefarious individuals have exploited weaknesses in security technology, in the unbounded collection of personal data and in public policies that, on the one hand, are intended to protect citizens and, on the other, to control them. And, despite the gains at WSIS, the tension among governments over “who controls the Internet” continues.

We believe our 2016 Action Plan gives focus to the work ahead. We have prioritized the need to connect the unconnected and to building and restoring trust in the Internet as a medium for personal and community identity, freedom and innovation. Behind the broad initiatives published in our plan at the end of 2015, there are specific, actionable, measurable projects and activities that, we believe, will have an impact on the future direction of Internet innovation, deployment, use and governance.

On Wednesday, January 27 (15:00 – 16:30 UTC) we will hold our first Community Forum of 2016 (details to follow). We have come a long way in the past year to grow our membership, our influence and our energy. We must continue that momentum. If we mean what we say, that innovation, progress and governance on the Internet are distributed and local to its users and communities, we must organize our efforts in the same way. Our Chapters and members are crucial to achieving our goals. I look forward to talking with you.

I sincerely believe that the future of the Internet as we know it is at stake at this important crossroads in its growth. We face regulatory action of dubious purpose, fragmentation, and, worse, the opposite of what we intend for users–an Internet of Apprehension–and control–rather than an Internet of Opportunity where doors are opened and user expression, creativity and autonomy is respected and advanced.

Welcome to 2016.

Categories
Internet Governance

ICT as an enabling platform for Innovation and the creation of Value

NOTE: On 19 October 2015, Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent spoke at the United Nations General Assembly as part of the WSIS+10 Second Informal Interactive Consultations. Mr. Larancuent is one of three WSIS Fellows sponsored by the Internet Society. Mr. Larancuent’s comments relate to the “Zero Draft” document as part of the UN’s WSIS+10 process.  The Internet Society also submitted comments on the Zero Draft. More information about the WSIS+10 Review can be found at https://dev.internetsociety.org/wsis

Last Monday Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent, ICT professor at university INTEC in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR); was invited to participate in the panel ICT for Development, moderated by Ms. Anne Miroux, Director of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This is a briefing from his participation.


Mr. Larancuent reflected about how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), aligned to support the Goals of Sustainable Development (GSD), collaboratively and with a long-term approach might improve the performance of Nations, in its path to alleviate extreme poverty; improve health, education; increase jobs, potentiate socioeconomic conditions and the welfare of society.

He welcomed the Zero Draft and the WSIS+10 revision process by expressing: “In no other time in the past, billions of people have had opportunities to access information like they do today via Internet from the palm of their hands; to nurture themselves from the flow of knowledge and improving their capabilities; produce and share productive tools & remote educational programs; and being producers and consumers; joining the trends of a new wave of electronic services (e-services) helping extend the reach, the remote participation and inclusion based on ICT programs such as e-government, e- commerce, e-collaboration, e-learning; all of them promoting productivity, financial inclusion, innovation, and change in our societies. This have created an offer, and the required demand”.

Reflecting on the concept of access, in vogue nowadays, a word which needs an agreement from all of us, to apply a broader meaning: “We need more access for people to use and demand local contents available on internet, in their languages, concerning their own culture. Civil society, academy, engineers, technicians, the business private sector, they all need more participation to collaborate in this process to create the required offer”.

Discussing about how change is a force feared by human beings and society in general, he claimed: “Yes, we all know that people fear change! because of the uncertainty it creates! But we all are willing to accept change if it improves our quality of life, provides us new knowledge, new productive tools, new successful experiences. ICTs have the potential to promote growth and efficiencies, but they are tools, that needs knowledge, this is not an automated, plug and play process”.

Stressing on the same subject, he remarked: “The academies, technicians, engineers, professionals are the natural sources of knowledge and expertise; the Business and Private sector have also the expertise about efficiencies, investments and their means to finance business growth; Civil Society the social concerns to contribute respect of human rights, inclusion, participation, equality; they, we, are all willing to contribute with innovation, investments, new business models. Politicians, Authorities, Governments have the responsibility to create and implement public policy, to assure the welfare, social balance; and to improve an enabling environment, bridges, inviting all parties of society to join”.

Like an introspective thought, he added: “It is true that public policies created by Governments are limited by short timing, with political priorities and financial needs to address, but politicians and governments role is to envision and address them in a participative step-by-step process, allowing society to benefit from this short timing, in an incremental solution of problems that may be left behind in the long term. I mean, the society stays; so it is possible for them to monitor, to evaluate and to contribute the plan among each period of government. However, to grab this opportunities, governments and politicians needs to create trust and embrace a vision of actions, commitment and collaboration. I think it is important to assure that all parties in society engage in that virtuous cycle on the short, medium and long term”.

Osvaldo concluded his speech, inviting to consider this moment to continue the change adopted ten years ago, with the help of multilateral institutions such as UN and all its agencies, which have shown impressive results in their assistance and support to keep peace, ensure progress, share knowledge, measure achievements: “Models like that of Internet Governance Forum for instance, has proved success as a model of self-regulated collaboration. ICT should improve our societies, with a people-centered approach, by attracting more innovative collaboration from academy, engineers, professional, technicians, civil society, business private sectors. Governments are not alone in trying to bridge digital divide, we, stakeholders are ready and willing to help with this task. We all want, we all desire to contribute; but for that we all need bridges from authorities, in ways that make sense for all of us, creating the expected Value!”.


Image credit: Samantha Dickinson on Twitter

Categories
Human Rights Internet Governance

WSIS + 10 Day 3 Summary

On 9 June, an event called WSIS+10 High Level Event began in Geneva Switzerland. Although you may not have heard of it before, you need to care because it might have a big impact on your ability to have your say in the future of the Internet. Here’s what happened on Day 3.

Categories
Human Rights Internet Governance

WSIS + 10 Day 2 Summary

On 9 June, an event called WSIS+10 High Level Event began in Geneva Switzerland. Although you may not have heard of it before, you need to care because it might have a big impact on your ability to have your say in the future of the Internet. Here’s what happened on Day 2.

Categories
Human Rights Internet Governance

WSIS + 10 Day 1 Summary

On 9 June, an event called WSIS+10 High Level Event began in Geneva Switzerland. Although you may not have heard of it before, you need to care because it might have a big impact on your ability to have your say in the future of the Internet. Here’s what happened on Day 1.

Categories
Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Internet Governance IPv6 Technology

Partnerships for SMART Internet development and for Progressing WSIS+10 Objectives

We are firm believers that sustainable development – smart Internet development – is all about partnerships. 

For more than two decades, the Internet Society has worked with partners to expand the Internet globally by facilitating Internet infrastructure development and-or convening communities of interest to build sustainable technical infrastructure and human and technical capacity development.  

Our mission since 1992 is to help facilitate the development of a reliable and ubiquitous Internet, to train people, to build human capacity, and to encourage open dialogue among stakeholders about key Internet issues. 

No one group does it alone – Internet communities don’t just light up once enough routers and switches have been turned on and people trained. Instead, these communities must be nurtured, and trust must be built among participants in order for SMART sustainable Internet development to be achieved.

We have found that everywhere the Internet has flourished, it has done so thanks to the existence of a robust technical class of engineers, technicians and users who ensure the network keeps running.  It is about people.  People who have worked with other experts to learn more, understand network architecture and traffic management, who have created local, regional, and international partnerships for development.  They also create the tools, forums and services that create local demand.  And, work together to convene stakeholders as we are doing today, in Geneva, under the WSIS+10 umbrella of meetings.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the importance of and Roles for Stakeholders

Paragraph 50 of the Tunis Agenda recognized the need for partnerships for building International Internet Connectivity (IIC).  A variety of actors play different in facilitating and building infrastructure. 

For example – Internet exchange points are a key part of IIC.

IXPs at the most basic level are switches, routers, ports, cables, and servers that allow local IP-based network providers (e.g., Internet service providers, national research and engineering networks, government networks, and mobile networks) to interconnect with each other and exchange traffic. In other words, network providers in a single country can share data traffic directly, instead of having to connect through an exchange point in a foreign country.

In theory at least, this means that any country that establishes an IXP, or improves the network of IXPs it has in place, will have faster and lower-cost Internet service. It often means that more of the population will be online, and more mobile operators, content companies and other network service providers will invest. IXPs keep local traffic local. 

The great thing about IXPs is that all this can start from a pretty modest technical base. IXPs don’t have to be elaborate when they get going. The London Internet Exchange (LINX), to take one example, began in 1994 with a single donated piece of networking equipment and five local Internet Services Providers as members. Today, London has over 400 members and is one of the biggest IXPs in the world.  LINX started with people working together to build something.  Technology does not walk by itself and success relies on those partnerships that pull communities together.

The Internet Society and other organizations around the world (the African Union, APIX, Af-IX, Euro-IX, LAC-IX, LACNIC, Packet Clearing House) can help countries obtain equipment. The really important part is what comes next.  At the Internet Society, we have seen plenty of countries plan to implement an IXP—including picking a location and accepting shipment of equipment—only to have the process stall. Why?  Sometimes the community of interest has not come together or does not have enough technical bandwidth and participants are not fully invested in developing the IXP.   

When things like this happen, it’s a reminder that the technical infrastructure—routers and switches—is only a part of Smart Internet Development, and not the most important. It cannot stand on its own. 

Partnerships do stand on their own, and our panel at WSIS+10, today, brings a variety of stakeholders together to discuss the importance of partnerships for Internet development.  Through the efforts of the organizations and people on this panel – Internet Community Partnerships for DevelopmentCreating the Enabling Environment through Capacity and Infrastructure Development, and Related Economic Factors – a stronger more technically capable community of experts has been developed, better local networks have been built, local connectivity costs have come down, and human networks of trust have been developed.

If there is one shared theme across today’s panel and across the efforts of our panelists and their organizations – it’s that small-scale efforts can yield massive dividends.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, no one organization does it alone.  Partnerships create those critical human networks that sustain communities, bring in new technology, and keep building out and improving networks one partnership at a time.