Categories
Internet Governance

Management of Critical Internet Resources in Trinidad & Tobago

In a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) such as the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, the Management of Critical Internet Resources has proven and will continue to be a challenge. 

While the global developed world community (especially the OECD countries) may be grappling with emerging issues in this area such as: 

  • Status of IPv6 availability around the world
  • The internationalization of critical Internet resources management
  • The importance of new TLDs and IDNs for development
  • Enhanced cooperation
  • Maintaining the open architecture of the Internet
  • Maintaining Internet services in situations of disaster and crisis

… SIDS like Trinidad & Tobago still remain caught in a virtual time warp where (historical and) endemic issues such as:

  • Relatively high cost of Telephony and related technologies
  • Relatively low availability and high cost of adequate broadband access
  • Economic and social barriers to Digital Inclusion
  • Crime, Deviance, Marginalization and Social Exclusion
  • Lack of information and adequate understanding of underlying technical issues surrounding the Internet
  • Ambivalence to the existing .tt ccTLD as well as to the emergence of new gTLDs and the opportunities and/or challenges that lie within

… continue to mitigate against the development of a cohesive Internet Governance (IG) Agenda and Action Plan especially as they relate to the foundational infrastructural issues of the management of critical internet resources.

It is therefore extremely difficult for the public, private and non-governmental sectors in Trinidad & Tobago to give any significant mindshare to the somewhat “esoteric” or “exotic” area of IG as they grapple with “bread-and-butter” day to day social and economic issues. This relatively straightforward contradiction has real and complex implications for IG and the management of critical internet resources. 

The result of the contradiction stated above is that very few sufficiently qualified and influential individuals (if any) get involved in the IG processes within country with the further result that the positions adopted within country on IG, at regional and international for a as well as operationally with respect to specific issues relating to Critical Internet Resources, for example are relatively weak, generic and easily countered/shot down/subsumed by countries with larger delegations, louder voices and considerably more resources – human, technological and financial at their disposal. It must be noted that this challenge is particularly felt by Trinidad & Tobago within the Latin American and Caribbean community into which is has been geographically grouped, although the country, culturally and historically shares a much greater affinity with the North American continent.

Further, and with specific reference to the management and administration of the .tt ccTLD, the aforementioned contradiction effectively resulted in a directionless approach with an abysmal national takeup of the .tt domain extension brand and an organization operating in a complete policy vacuum.

It must be noted that, due to the then-existing, and to some extent, still current IG arrangements, management and administration of ccTLDs, especially in developing countries, (and even more especially in SIDS) were essentially allocated on the “first-mover” principle, i.e. the first qualified organization who had the foresight to express an interest in ccTLD management and administration to the IG “regulator” was able to obtain a lien on what has now been recognized to be a very important national asset in the growing and evolving internet space.   

Indeed, rapid growth in use of the Internet has led to increasing importance being placed on country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) and as such the governments of many developing countries have come to realize that the development of a national domain name system (DNS) in the public interest, can provide an incentive to citizens and the local business community to consider registration in the national Top Level Domain. 

The unofficial data shows that there may be almost five (5) times as many Trinidad & Tobago-centric gTLDs (i.e. .com, .net, .org, info etc.) when compared with .tt ccTLDs and sub .tt ccTLDs and indeed many of the active sub ccTLDs are gov.tt which are, in fact, controlled by the Government.

Anecdotal evidence appears to point to the problem surrounding the existing unattractive retail pricing model coupled with a low level of technologically proficient customer service which clearly indicates a lack of vision or direction for the .tt ccTLD. As a matter of fact, it is safe to say that the .tt ccTLD operation is currently in a “holding pattern” in “wait and see” mode.

To this end, the question of how to manage a critical internet resource such as the .tt ccTLD (among others) in the face of the existing IG arrangements AS WELL AS the environmental constraints already mentioned is an enormous challenge within Trinidad & Tobago, which increased exposure to and participation in regional and international IG for a is only now beginning to show its effects.

Categories
Internet Governance

Workshop 150: Global Capacity Building for Internet Governance

Panelists :

Dalia Zaki, Programme Assistant, UNDP, Egypt
Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society (ISOC) Ambassador, Trinidad & Tobago
In recent years, developing countries, civil society organizations, and concerned academics have sought to promote broad development agendas in the international institutions and policy debates dealing with such issues as trade, debt, and intellectual property. But in the field of Internet Governance, such parallel initiatives have yet to take shape in adequate numbers and frequencies. Accordingly, the purpose of this workshop session was to begin a multistakeholder dialogue on the nature of a possible development agenda in Internet Governance.
A interesting cross-section of the IG community was in attendance including representation from the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology in Egypt, the Department of Information Technology from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), the Directorate of e-Government in Kenya, the Commonwealth Secretariat/DiploFoundation and Interliaise from the Netherlands.
The Workshop, coming as it did, immediately following the Special Honarary Session with First Lady Mubarak was forced to take a different format. The panelists decided to organize more of a roundtable setting with full interaction facilitated by Mr. Hackshaw and Ms. Zaki.
Ms. Zaki introduced the session by pointing out that in order for Global Capacity Building in the area of IG to be successful, key public policy issues need to be examined in the areas of:
1. Infrastructure and Management of Critical Internet Resources
2. Privacy & Security
3. New Economic models/e-Commerce
4. Networks – linking telecentres
5. Video & Visual methods of knowledge transfer
6. Training the Trainers
7. United Nations organisational support
Mr. Hackshaw added to this list, observing, that further, perhaps non-traditional areas were in dire need of support and exploration including:
1. Relevance & Localization of Content
2. Mobile & the emergence of significantly high levels of mobile penetration in the developing world
3. Digital Convergence
4. Youth, Gender & the Environment
With the above in mind, the following questions needed to be answered:
(a) Which of the many issues involved in Internet Governance should be given priority in the near-term?
(b) Could new approaches to these individual issues collectively constitute a holistic and coherent development agenda, and what would be the benefits and risks of pursuing such a framework?
(c) How can these concerns best be taken forward within the distributed array of governmental, intergovernmental, private sector, and multistakeholder governance mechanisms?
As the roundtable discussions moved forward, the following key points emerged in response to the posed questions:
1. Even if IG or ICT standards or policies are developed, which body will ensure that they are enforced? Mr. Hackshaw referenced ISOC’s Internet Ecosystem (PDF) in providing a snapshot of the various actors involved in IG
2. Training and capacity building were urgently needed in the area of Cybersecurity.
3. It was stressed that capacity training and not just training was what was required in the developing world i.e. focusing on materials dealing with traditional media and new media.
4. Where will the budget and funding for the expansive requirement for Capacity building come from? Top down? Bottom Up?
5. In the developing world, ICT and IG issues are not necessarily aligned with national priorities such as a clean and regular supply of water, affordable and adequate health care, etc. Any capacity building effort must take into account the different needs and priorities of different countries – a “catch-all” solution is highly unlikely to be sufficient
6. Related to the points raised above, it was noted that ICT and IG issues did not currently form a visible part of the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals. To this end, it is extremely difficult to (a) obtain/raise national or governmental support and funding for ICT/IG issues and (2) obtain external multi-lateral funding for same

So, how do we take this approach forward? At the conclusion, there was a significant perception that a fully participative multi-stakeholder approach including Civil Society, Faith-based organisations, Business, Government representatives and Academia somewhat akin to the concept of IGF itself was required. Whether this approach is meant to drill down to the local or even grassroots levels remains a great unanswered question

Categories
Internet Governance

Day 4 Wednesday, 18 November

Last day for the Forum, the host country honorary session was today seeing the visit of the First Lady of Egypt Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak. I was at the ISOC booth from 8am to 11:30. It was a pleasure being at the booth today because after the session Mrs. Mubarak took a tour of the village. I planned being in the workshop Global Capacity Building for Internet Governance but ended up in the workshop Taking stock and looking forward – on the desirability of the continuation of the Forum. I was surprised there were so many speakers that the chairman had to use a stopwatch and be firm with the time. I was surprised because all the speakers praised the institution of the forum acknowledging its achievements and called for an extension with some proposing recommendations. The last part of the day was spent in the Net neutrality workshop. One question that has been with since the workshop on net neutrality is WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY? And what does it mean to a small country with poor infrastructure and just a limited bandwidth serving the whole country?

Categories
Internet Governance

Workshop 151: Cyber Security R&D: Developing a Vision & Road Map

It was a very bright and early morning, 9:00 a.m. on the first day of the IGF, in the Biblioteca Alexandrina.

Well, maybe not so melodramatic.

Organised by the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, (CSDMS) from UP, India, a not-for-profit research institution established in 1997, the workshop brought together bring together Cybersecurity production personnel, Cybersecurity researchers, and scientific application researchers from across the globe.

The Workshop’s purpose was to primarily identify the research needs and opportunities associated with Cybersecurity, focusing especially discussion will focus especially on those needs associated with supercomputing, user facilities, high-speed networks, laboratories, and other open collaborative science stakeholders.

Panelists who led the discussion were:

Tulika Pandey, Additional Director, Ministry of Communications & IT, Department of Information Technology, Government of India

Tracy Hackshaw, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Internet Society (ISOC) Ambassador

Sherif El Tokali, Assistant Resident Representative, Poverty Reduction, MDGs & Private Sector Team Leader, UNDP (Egypt)

The Workshop  sought to create a proactive and forward-looking approach to research and development in the Cybersecurity area from a rigorous analytical and technical basis that would stimulate new open science research directions and have a lasting impact on Cybersecurity.

Key Goals:

  • Identify the research needs and opportunities associated with cybersecurity for science
  • Gather future science cybersecurity priorities
  • Develop a list of research and development priorities for Cybersecurity R&D
  • Produce a report describing the results of the discussion, which will provide further impetus to the researchers and the studies in the field.

Tulika Pandey of the Government of India’s Ministry of Communications & IT opened the session by providing the platform for discussion. Ms. Pandey indicated in her presentation that there was an increasingly critical need to develop and new R&D Agenda for Cybesercurity. Why?

  1. Monitoring and control of various core infrastructure like electricity, water supply, and medical services are getting computerised, increasing their dependency on ICT
  2. The emerging information infrastructure differ radically in scale, connectivity and dependencies from traditional structures
  3. Communication systems are interconnected resulting in global interdepencies and vulnerabilities including threats to the national systems
  4. Protective measures require continual technological improvements and new approaches to minimize threats on ICT

Internet Society (ISOC) Ambassador Tracy Hackshaw from Trinidad & Tobago – a Social Psychologist by training – sought to tackle the issue from a non-technical perspective. He also sought to highlight the perhaps unique needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) where Cybersecurity issues may have deeper  and somewhat submerged dimensions, therefore requiring a multidisciplinary approach to R&D.

Mr. Hackshaw’s presentation argued, that in order to develop an effective global Cybersecurity R&D Agenda, the unique needs of SIDS needed to be factored in which include, inter alia:

  1. Social & economic dislocation
  2. Cultural Contestations
  3. Subjectivity of security
  4. High technological barriers

By referring to the case of Trinidad & Tobago, he suggested that the major research question for Cybersecurity first recognize that:

Technology WILL advance and along with it, the technological sophistication of Cybersecurity threats – this is certain

With this recognition, we neccessarily have to ask ourselves:

How do we reconcile the fact the human behaviour is inherently unpredictable and irrational, despite the best social & economic theories to predict same?

Mr. Hackshaw’s recommendations therefore were to develop a Research Agenda which engaged BOTH the qualitative and quantitative study of issues surrounding four (4) key dynamics:

 

Sherif El Tokali of the UNDP Country Office in Egypt presented a detailed examination of the current trends within the Cybersecurity R&D sphere and by linking the Egyptian experience with the wider international sphere also called for a multidimensional approach to counter Cybercrime.

Sherif identified three (3) broad areas of Cybersecurity threats:

  1. Threats to individual users through viruses or identity theft, spam, spyware or pop-ups;
  2. Threats to businesses, governments or other organizations through exploitation of vulnerabilities in their data storage, industrial espionage, system downtime, etc. and;
  3. Threats to critical public infrastructures, including electronic communication networks, financial systems, emergency services, navigation systems, electrical power grids, air traffic control, water control systems etc.

 

The ensuing discussions took on a interesting slant with the call by Mr. Hackshaw for a more localized approach to Cybersecurity finding support from representatives from countries like Mauritius and Mexico.

Indeed, and to this end, the discussions moved swiftly and fluidly from the theoretical to the practical as participant after participant spoke to the peculiar issues in dealing with Cybercrime and Cybersecurity in their jurisdiction. Some of the core themes included:

1. The need for international capacity building and knowledge sharing in the area of Cybercrime/Cybersecurity policies and legislation – reference was made to the toolkits and model laws produced by the ITU and Commonwealth Secretariat (for example);

2. Knowledge sharing regarding practical solutions employed by the public and private sectors to combat Computer Misuse and Credit Card Fraud for example.

Perhaps the major or central outcome of the Workshop could have identified by the need to examine Cybercrime from a non-traditional viewpoint … is Cybercrime and Cybersecurity therefore uniquely different from traditional crime and will different approaches be required to not only protect, but also to develop proactive strategies to mitigate against the potential risks?

A Cybersecurity R&D Workshop participant poses a question to the Panelists

Comments from the floor during Cybersecurity R&D Workshop, November 15, 2009 at the IGF 2009

The IGF 2009 Cybersecurity R&D panelists consider questions from the audienceComments from the floor during Cybersecurity R&D Workshop, November 15, 2009 at the IGF 2009

 

Categories
Internet Governance

Day 3 Tuesday, 17 November

My day started at the ISOC booth, I was there for a while then left for the ITU Open Forum on Cyber Security. Mr. Sami Al Basheer Al Moshid, Director, BDT, ITU spoke on the ITU Global Cyber Security Agenda which is a cooperative framework aimed at address cyber security in a coordinated and integrated manner through the 5 pillars of Legal, Technical and Procedural, Organizational, Capacity and International Cooperation. The Global Cyber Security Agenda is now in its operational phase. The ITU also has in the past year introduced IMPACT with more than 40 countries joining in. ITU is also building capacity through various toolkits. Panelists at the Forum touched on initiatives by ITU in addressing the menace of Cyber security. Later on the presenters focused each on the 5 pillars.

The afternoon was a jack of all trades afternoon, I had a bit of the following workshops; Adopting IPv6: What You Need To Know, Mitigating the Financial Crisis with Open Source Applications, The Privacy & Security Implications of Cloud Computing. It was an interesting afternoon trying to have a feel of all the parallel sessions. I wasn’t able to attend the workshops on IPv6 Transition: Economic and Technical Considerations and Internet Governance in the Light of the WSIS Principles

Categories
Internet Governance

Day 2 – Monday, 16 November

My first session for this day was the The Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum – Open Forum, I was so keen to participate in this forum because prior to the IGF together with my colleague Emmanuel from Nigeria we tried organizing something similar which was not success full due to some challenges experienced. This forum then proved to be one of the best platforms to push for Internet Governance Capacity Building in the region. The Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) seeks to encourage greater participation from Commonwealth member states on policy issues and discussions related to Internet Governance, with a view to coming up with informed solutions or the pooling of good practice to address their needs more directly.

The objectives of the Commonwealth IGF are:
To promote awareness of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) amongst policy makers and stakeholders from industry, civil society and academia in Commonwealth member countries.

To establish IGF links around the Commonwealth with the particular aim of securing the engagement of those Commonwealth member countries which have not previously participated in the Internet Governance Forum.

To foster links between Commonwealth national and regional IGFs and the identify areas of common concern such as affordable and secure access for all.

To provide a forum for stakeholders from Commonwealth member countries to discuss and formulate Commonwealth-wide policies, best practice and position papers to be tabled at the IGF in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 16 -18 November 2009.

To inform national positions on public policy issues for the good governance of the Internet and provide a forum for Commonwealth members to enable them to work towards formulating Commonwealth wide policies or positions to be tabled at the IGF.

Tony and Alice highlighted on the Commonwealth Connects programme and East African IGF respectively. All the discussions at the forum focused on building a community of practice on IG issues in the commonwealth.
The forum was filled with many interesting ideas and contributions on supporting and promoting the activities of the Commonwealth IGF. We had to convene again in the evening to continue and conclude the discussions.
There were lots of contributions to the discussions on the future of the Commonwealth IGF. It was agreed to share best practises and existing resources and experiences as far as possible.

The priority areas that were suggested were:
1. Promotion of Regional and National IG Groups
2. Capacity building and awareness raising for policy makers, and legislators
3. Fighting Cybercrime through Prevention, Regulation and enforcement.
4. Supporting the continuance of IGF

Teaching Internet Governance – The experience of the Summers School of Internet Governance was the second session for the day. The workshop described the three summer Schools on Internet Governance that took place during 2007 and 2008. It was mentioned that majority of all who have been through this programme are deeply and actively involved in various IG processes. This is very true because for one to be able to follow and contribute meaningfully in the Internet Governance debate, the fellow must have a thorough understanding of the process and IG Capacity Building Programmes offers the right foundation because it is difficult to find teaching programmes that cover all aspects of Internet Governance.

In reviewing the existing experiences and trying to find improvement for subsequent summer schools I made a comment about expanding the number of people that participate in the programme annually because it was noted that the organizers are not able to offer seats to majority of the applicants because of funding. Since this is a good initiative the introduction of elearning platforms will prove very useful.

Nearing lunch time already, the third workshop was Managing Internet Addresses: Global and regional viewpoint organized by the NRO. The aim of this workshop was to present detailed information about the functioning and main activities the RIRs develop, including description and analysis of their processes (PDP, allocation process, criteria and evaluation of the requests), their involvement in the projects to foster the Information Society and their current challenges in the management of the Internet resources.

The process of IP Address allocation coming from IANA and distributed to the RIRs to the ISP’s then finally to the users was explained giving the functions of each player at each stage. Address space and IPv4 depletion as a resource management challenge was an issue of major concern looking at the introduction of IPv6 and arrangements being made for successful transitions.

RIRs operate on a basic principle of open, transparent, consensus-based decision-making, following a self-regulatory model, based on a broad and multi-stakeholder participation in their activities. The activities and services of each of the RIRs are defined, performed, discussed in open forums within each of their communities, accomplishing a bottom-up decision-making process. The workshop answered the question of what do RIR’s do, here it was known that amongst its functions RIRs beyond their registry function, have an important role in educating and informing their communities. The activities carried out by the individual RIRs vary, but include open policy meetings, training courses, seminars, outreach activities, statistical reporting, research and projects related to whois, RPKI, cybersecurity and encouraging the launching of IXPs, among others. Another role for the RIRs is to represent the interests of their communities by participating in global forums and cooperating with other stakeholders involved in Internet addressing issues.

This day was tight I must confess with three workshop already in the morning session with the afternoon session to go. The next session for me was the role of Internet Exchange Points in creating Internet capacity and bringing autonomy to developing nations. This workshop explained how Internet bandwidth, the capacity to route Internet traffic, is produced within Internet exchange points, an overview of the distribution of Internet exchange points globally, and discussion of the role of Internet exchange points in making developing regions autonomous from the draining expense of international telecommunications carriage. The creation of an Internet exchange point is the single most economically-empowering decision that the Internet community within any region can make, and the one which will most secure their future as an independent and viable center of local content and online community.

Experiences from different IXP’s were shared from the way they begun to how they operate and challenges they encounter.

I Thought I had another session but that was all for the day. Two other workshops I intended to attend were the 2CENTRE, the Cybercrime Centres of Excellence for Training, Research & Education workshop and Managing Critical Internet Resources. Well that’s all for the second day.

Categories
Internet Governance

Day 1 – Sunday, 15 November

The first session I attended on this day was, Cyber Security R&D: Developing a vision & Road map. On the panel was Tulika Pandey from the Department of Information Technology, Government of India. Tracy Hackshaw from Trinidad and Tobago and an ISOC Ambassador, Mr. Sheriff assistant resident representative poverty reduction, MDG and private sector team leader, UNDP Egypt.

The objective of the workshop was to identify the research needs and opportunities associated with cyber security and was looking together to develop a vision and roadmap for cyber security.

The workshop tried to find certain missing capabilities in today’s cyber security approach such as provable methods for quantifying trustworthiness and risk within a component or system of components.

Mr. Hackshaw from the perspective of Trinidad and Tobago looked at 4 dynamics in Cyber Security research in the areas of Social Behaviour, Psychological and Cultural, Economic and Technological.

According to Mr. Sheriff, the full potential of the internet has not been realized. Due to security concerns there is a level of refrain from respondents this he said is from an ITU research.

3 areas of cyber security threats were identified, namely; individuals, business and critical internet resources. To ensure security in cyber space there is also the need for multidisciplinary research and development in cyber security. From the floor it was made known that for instance in Mauritius users of credit cards have a limit after which the customer will be called for further transactions. This model proves to be efficient in small countries compared to bigger countries. Some best practices from the commonwealth models and approach to cyber security were also shared.

One interesting question at the workshop was: What is cyber crime and what makes it different from other crimes? It was noted that most countries find it difficult to prosecute because of the definition of new crimes.

Some recommendations were: the Egyptian model of safe internet for families, jurisdiction for cyber crime, CERTS, country and professional readiness, policy and implementation issues, the need for a bottom up approach and securing networks and authentication.

Due to lack of time the workshop had to end to make way for another session. The workshop broke new grounds and dimensions in further research work in cyber security.

My second session for the day was Understanding Internet Infrastructure: an Overview of Technology and Terminology. This workshop served as an introduction to the topology of the internet, providing definitions and explanations for key terms like transit, peering, hot-potato, exchange point, root and top-level domain name server, routing and forwarding. This was a good workshop that answered the questions of many lay people who participated in the workshop. It was interesting to see the questions about how the internet runs and certain key concepts being explained to participants. I think more of such workshops will demystify the internet as a place for only techies. This workshop achieved its purpose I must say.

The official opening ceremony took the second half of the day. The high level participation of the Egyptian Government with the presence of the Prime Minister affirmed the level of importance the Government of Egypt attached to the 4th Internet Governance Forum and the IG process as a host. According to Sha Zukang we share a common understanding as we progress in bridging the digital gap and building the foundation for our emerging formation and knowledgeable society. The way we deal with the Internet will become increasingly important.

Since the inception of the internet it has continued to lead the world in innovations and ICT and Internet Applications. Speaking on the desirability of the continuation of the forum he encouraged all to participate fully in the stocktaking meetings and share views on how valuable the forum has been, suggest improvements if necessary and check the IGF against its mandate as set out in the Tunis agenda for the Information Society.

There were two other sessions I could not attend due to the parallel nature of the sessions, namely: Issues Regarding the Mobile Internet and Internet Governance – Setting the Scene. I am glad I will be able to refer to the archive of webcasts and transcripts.

Categories
Internet Governance

4th Internet Governance Forum Meeting, Sharm El Sheikh, 14 – 18 November, 2009

I arrived in Sharm El Sheikh on the 14th November around 1am and checked in my hotel about an hour later. The morning of the 14th saw me in the scheduled ISOC ambassadors briefing. I wished I had more sleep the night before. Well, Thanks to ISOC for making it possible for me to participate in this important event. The briefing brought together all ambassadors in addition to ISOC staff with the exception of Veaceslav and Ceren who got incapacitated. Bill, Connie, Constance from ISOC took turns to address the gathering on various issues. Ranging from disseminating ISOC objectives, leveraging and promoting its activities as well as explaining ISOC policy issues at the IGF, also discussed was participation of ambassadors in the ISOC ambassador alumni programme, outreach activities, the Next Generation Leaders Programme. Ambassadors were encouraged to press regional concerns. For the archives, ambassadors had photo sessions with our mentors and a group photo with the ISOC team present at the IGF. Each ambassador gave a presentation on his/her focus and expectations for the IGF. My main areas of attention were and continue to be Capacity building in Internet Governance and Cyber security. These happen to be my focus areas because coming from sub Saharan Africa; we do not have greater participation and involvement in the Internet Governance process because of capacity. It has been found out that most developing countries have limited understanding and awareness of the intricacies of Internet governance issues and do not have sufficient capacity to effectively participate in global Internet governance. Making issues relating to the developmental aspects of Internet Governance, in particular capacity-building in developing countries one of the four key areas established by the working group on Internet Governance.

Categories
Internet Governance

Sustainable capacity building for Internet Accessibility for the Disabled

Chair: Gunela Astbrink (Australia)

This workshop was to build capacity to advocate for change so that people with disabilities no matter where they live can participate in the internet economy and benefit from opportunities for employment, education, and recreational pursuits as are enjoyed by the rest of the population. The presentation was to develop tools for working with government and industry so that the internet can be more accessible for people with disabilities. Barriers to accessibility to the internet are physical, visual, language, auditory and understanding content. Workshop participants experienced impaired vision as an example of what some users have to cope with. New technologies offer new opportunities to reduce the impact of some disabilities. Some strategies to help people with disabilities include: creating products right from the start which consider the needs of the whole community – able-bodied AND disabled users – an inclusive design; enable mobility features so that access is available to all types of services (banking, chat rooms, blogs, social networks). This allows a level playing field; iPHONE from Apple includes a built-in reading programme so that blind users can type in and read text messages; vision-impaired user would also benefit from screen magnifiers, tags to describe graphic elements, screen reading programmes: Other users would appreciate captions, sign language, real time text conversation.

Categories
Internet Governance

Measuring the impact of internet governance on sustainable development

Facilitator: Heather Creech

The objective of this workshop was to explore the range of indicators needed to monitor whether internet policy and governance choices are leading to an Internet that is supporting social, environmental and economic goals, as well as innovations in accountability and governance. Mechanisms are needed to monitor the impact of Internet policies and government choices; How do we determine whether these choices are helping to achieve the broad sustainable goals of humanity?; What do internet policy makers need to measure to make informed decisions?

Dr Hossam Allam provided some statistics related to sustainable development in countries with high need and low access to the internet. He demonstrated a correlation between IT and infant mortality. Low access countries had high infant mortality. His conclusion was that better internet services would result in better sustainable development and that ICTs could be used to reduce carbon emissions through flexiwork, eCommerce, eLearning, eBanking and eGovernment.

Susan Telscher (ITU) revealed that there is a lot of information about ICTs that is not widely available. Some examples were the number of people who use computers internet and mobile phones; Types of activities carried out over the internet or phone : frequency of use; Use by gender, education, age, location, income, employment; Enterprises (especially SMEs) using ICT by industry sector; Use of ICTs by public sector (government, health, education, etc). There is a real need for survey data (vs administration data).

WHAT HAS BEEN FOUND SO FAR? Because of their pervasive nature, ICTS are enabling but with a higher impact on those who meet a set of requirements or characteristics; Negative impact of ICTs have not been researched well; Better data are key to measuring ICT impact. We broke up into groups to discuss the three key areas of influence by ICTs – environment, economic and social – and what type of indicators could be developed to influence the policy making process . The feedback included:

ENVIRONMENT:  There are no indicators available as yet but any that are developed should monitor the full life cycle of technology – where it is being built, sold, consumed and then disposed of. Other factors that should be taken into consideration include the percentage of material that goes into their manufacture which is recyclable. Policies are needed to influence what these goods are made of and how transferable their uses can be (eg the move to make a universal charger so that all mobile phones can be charged using a single model). The age of a product at the point of disposal could be used as an indicator – this could influence procurement policies. Indicators based on environmental outcomes and their impact eg develop a carbon accounting mechanism around e-services. There needs to be an awareness of eWaste and recycling options – research has shown that only 1% of material is being recycled. There was a concern raised about mobile phones and what options are available for responsible recycling. In the summary it was raised that because there were no indicators, it was important that stakeholders spend time on this topic – raising awareness of implications of ICT on the environment especially in developing countries. Summary: Because indicators don’t exist it is unclear what leverage will result when you have such different perspectives (eg Kenya vs Switzerland). Where do you locate advocacy to do with indicators? Are there indicators related to eWaste or human impact on the environment?

ECONOMIC: Indicators could include: measure of GDP, volumes of ICT imports and exports, employment and generational income for populations. How do we measure efficiencies created by the use of ICT? Perhaps in-depth analyses of sectors in the economy and asking them about how they view productivity caused by the use of ICT (eg manufacturing etc that may benefit from technology. Summary: It is important to gather data on the contribution and value added of ICT goods and services – there are lots of differences and priorities.

SOCIAL: Gender issues – equal access, internet literacy, ICT business women, internet content; Education issues – quantity (# of universities  schools with ICTs) and quality of access, appropriate teacher training & teacher knowledge to keep ahead of what students know; Health – telemedicine facilities, technology to increase health of population; Global solidarity – enhanced awareness of other, speed and response to awareness esp in relation to disasters and support; eGovernment – # of services, access by citizens, time dimension, consistency and range of services offered. Summary: Social issues are more challenging and a lot of attention is being paid to the impact of ICTs on social issues, esp in education. We need to have indicators that measure connectivity issues (eg how can ICT influence development? Are they suitable for sustainable development? If you invest, is it going to improve human development?

CONCLUSION: many contributions reflected MDGs – Speed of information delivery and response is an important indicator and quality is an important aspect of speed. There are a lot of differences provided by broadband which can become important in the future. But in all areas more indicators are required.

Categories
Internet Governance

IGF issues – Dubai “Gulf News” (Friday Nov 20, 2009)

On my homeward flight I read Dubai’s “Gulf News” (Friday, Nov 20) which included two articles which highlighted IGF issues related to the improper use of the internet – cybercrime and improper use of social networking sites. The issue for us in the Pacific is the lack of any laws to address issues such as these should cybercriminals use our networks for activity which in other countries is dealt with by the courts?

The cybercrime article was entitled “Cybercriminal gets six months jail for job hoax: Accused promoted Education Ministry job on a fake website”. (Here is an abridged version of the article) “Dubai: A visitor has been jailed for six months after he promoted a teacher’s job in the Education Minister on a hoax website and defrauded a London-based teacher. [The judge ordered that he will be deported after his jail term]. The fraudster had earlier denied indulging in a cybercrime, which involved designing a hoax website claiming it to be that of the UAE’s Education Ministry, promoting a teaching job and defrauding US$4,100 from a London-based Slovakian teacher.  [The accused was charged by the Public Prosecution who asked the jury to impose the toughest possible punishment applicable. The teacher claimed she referred to an email address on the site which belonged to the accused and that he pocketed her money.] “The site advertised the job application as being issued by the Labour Ministry and promoted the Education Ministry’s teaching job. The accused [and a number of other unidentified accomplices] were charged with committing a cybercrime by abusing the internet and defrauding and swindling [the teacher’s] money. .. An Emirati lieutenant from Dubai’s Police section combating cybercrime testified that they tracked down the email of the accused before they arrested him.”

The second article was a whole page dedicated to “Letters to the Editor” about an earlier Gulf News article (Nov 18) “Man accused of defaming former employee” where “a business partner [from Dubai ] admitted cursing and defaming his former employee on Facebook during the first-of-its-kind trial involving the world wide electronic social networking tool. This is believed to be the first court hearing which involves suspects abusing Facebook for unlawful acts, to be highlighted in the media.” Unfortunately only parts of the original article were printed, but there were 23 letters to the editor commenting on the pros and cons of the social networking site and some suggestion of censorship. Some examples of the letters reflect views similar to those which were raised in the IGF “Social networking and privacy” session I attended.

Be careful
Face book is a social networking site that is open to millions of people. Whatever you put on the internet would somehow be read by people as the information gets passed on from one person to another very quickly. A person should always think twice before uploading some information or document on Facebook. As an advice, never put anything that is related to work or anything that would insult somebody. Yes, we are entitled to our own opinions, but many cultures and people are not open to criticism, jokes or sharing of personal views. (Mr Q, Dubai)

Continuing issues
Facebook is not the problem. It someone wants to cause harm to another, he or she will find a way. Libel and slander existed before Facebook and they will continue, whether the social networking website exists or not. (Ms A, Dubai)

Budding community
We all have to utilize and use Facebook in the right way! Blocking the website is not a good decision. If it is blocked, tomorrow another communication website will be launched with a different name. Instead of blocking it, education people on how to use it in the correct manner. It’s a social community – it someone doesn’t like it, do not register yourself there. (Mr S, Ras Al Khaimah).

Stop them
Electronic networks allow users to use harsh words which can easily hurt of offend someone. The new generation exploits such freedom! Values, respect and ethics don’t matter in such forums which makes the users extremely vulnerable. Please stop the use of such networks. (Mrs S, Dubai).

Changing times
Let us take a step back and see why Facebook was created. It is used by millions of people around the world to keep in touch with friends and family. It forms a platform through which people can share photos and videos. It has changes how people communicate. If certain individuals take advantage of this freedom and instigate others, it is not the fault of the network or of other users. If we have a problem with certain people on Facebook, we should either report them to the moderators, or personally modify our accounts and avoid them. (A reader, Dubai).

Categories
Internet Governance

The Internet and Citizenship: Applying a Gender Lens

Moderator: Radhika Lal (UNDP)

This workshop focused on the current social paradigm and how it is shaping the world of women. Within the context of the internet  we are seeing new trends which have nationalized certain areas of citizenship. How do women take advantage of these emerging contexts? This is done at three levels:

  1. Citizenship on the internet (netizenship) – as member of this internet community
  2. Local democracy – with women connected to the state via the internet
  3. Citizenship in the full global transnational context

Margarita Sellars (Costa Rica) – people have access to the net thorugh different means and processes depending on the context of the country in which they live. It is a fact that women don’t normally have access to television or other media to be able to express their opinion – the internet has made it more possible for women to let their opinions be known with less risk of censorship – especially as they can remain anonymous if this is necessary. The internet also allows them to cross borders – it opens up a larger geographical area of citizenship for humankind in general. However it does assume that women do have access to the internet.

Heike Jensen (Germany) explained the research that is being done in Asia about censorship and the ways in which information can be blocked eg indirectly via administration, licensing policies, physical architecture (software, hardware). The research found that in the Asian context, the blockages were more pervasive as women censored themselves because culturally they are not allowed to express themselves in public.  Internet technology can become a magic tool to set up structures for indigenous populations to assert their citizenship.

Olga Cavelli said that there was a problem with women being drawn into the “prosumer” role where thy can be swept into media platforms that can create other risks – who can use your information and for what purposes? What is valued and who values it? This is an issue for young women – how secure is the information they are putting online?

Radhika – Technology is just a mediator for information and knowledge processes. Capacity building should enable people to participate from a conscious citizenship point of view – taking into account how information and knowledge technologies can support and strengthen the livelihoods of people. Our goal is what we can achieve by being connected.