Categories
Internet Governance Public Policy

Plenipot 2018 – What’s Up for the Internet?

Two weeks ago, the Editorial Board of the New York Times published a piece predicting that the Internet is heading for a breakup.

Based on the comments made by Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt during a private event the Times set out to paint a picture of a world with three Internets.

The timing is understandable. We’re in a world where things like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is met with an equal measure of acceptance, annoyance, and confusion around the world.

And, just last week, my colleague Konstantinos Komaitis warned about what could happen as decision-makers are imposing rules that spill over onto the Internet, hamper innovation, deter investment in their own countries, and risk creating new digital divides.

These events set the stage for the Plenipotentiary meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

And, in today’s climate, there are many who believe the Internet could be failing us.

So, we need to speak loudly about the fact that the Internet is not failing.

So far, I think the Internet has been a force for good.

The Internet allows us to do things like expand our access to education, build businesses, and grow our economy.

The Internet connects people because of its open, distributed, and interoperable design. Each network that joins the Internet becomes part of the Internet. A network of networks cannot be centrally controlled because it has no center. This is not some accidental design choice we can alter. It is an essential feature. A feature that has allowed for permissionless innovation and for technological scale beyond the dreams of its early creators.

The Internet was not designed to recognize national boundaries. It just wasn’t relevant to the technical design. Resiliency is achieved through diversity of infrastructure. Having multiple connections and different routes between key points ensures that traffic can “route around” network problems.

It is this design that makes it an Internet for everyone, and this is what makes it such a powerful tool for our global economy. The very nature of its design also has driven global technical collaboration between and among experts and stakeholders.

The Internet works through collaboration; singular control weakens it at every step.

For the new challenges of the twenty-first century, we need new models of collaboration. The way the Internet infrastructure was operated and managed by the community over the last 25 years is a novel model of successful global self-regulated collaboration. And, the truth is that nobody has a magical cure for global challenges. The world is still struggling to apply the old national and international governance models to solve today’s global challenges such as climate change, human migration, wars, and occupations. Perhaps the story of the Internet will inspire us to work together even more.

So over these next three weeks, let’s be loud and tell our story – a story of collaboration. If you are part of the community who are creating the Internet of tomorrow tell the world about it by using the hashtags #Plenipot18 and #DontBreakTheInternet.

By sharing our stories, we also can inspire others to join us in our cause and remind the world that the Internet is for everyone because only everyone can make a better tomorrow.

Image ©Internet Society/Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

Categories
Internet Governance Public Policy

What’s Ahead at the 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference

Today the Internet Society published a matrix of issues that will be discussed at the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary treaty conference (PP-18) in Dubai next month.  The matrix reflects common proposals adopted recently at some of the ITU’s regional preparatory meetings. It is intended to aid our community in preparations and serve as a useful guide on where governments stand on some of the issues that are important to the Internet Society community. Note that the matrix will be updated periodically as individual country proposals are submitted closer to the conference date. Based on the input from governments so far, Internet Governance, emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Over-the-Top (OTT) applications and services will rank high on the agenda at the Plenipotentiary.

While the Plenipotentiary happens every four years, it comes at a time when Internet Governance stakes are particularly high, as governments’ response to the borderless nature of Internet issues such as cybersecurity and data privacy is intensifying, and support for multilateral solutions to deal with them grows. Those that favor a multilateral governance approach might view the ITU’s international cooperation framework for global telecommunications as the natural vector into Internet policy issues, and could be seeking a firm role for the ITU in the Internet Governance realm.

The Internet Society sees the Internet’s success as the result of open, inclusive, and collaborative processes that allow a wide range of people with expertise and interest to contribute to its development and find collaborative solutions.

As a Sector Member of the ITU, the Internet Society will be at PP-18 as an observer. We support the technical evolution of the Internet and are committed to making sure that everyone has access to it. We will work with our partners and community to raise awareness amongst delegates on the importance of a distributed model of governance, encourage more open and inclusive processes within the ITU to enable development, and provide our expertise on Internet technical and development aspects so that delegates can be better informed in the discussions.

Please see our PP-18 page for more information about the conference: https://dev.internetsociety.org/events/un/plenipot-2018/

Suggestions and comments on the matrix are welcome and should be sent to oluoch@isoc.org.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Open Consultations at the ITU: How to build an enabling environment for Internet access

Last week, the Internet Society participated in the physical consultation of the ITU Council Working Group on “International Internet-related public policy issues.” Participation in this CWG-Internet group is closed to non-governments. However, the consultations are open to all stakeholders. During the meeting, stakeholders shared their perspectives from their online submittals on the topic of: How do we build an enabling environment for Internet access?

The issue of expanding Internet access has garnered much attention and interest by the international community following the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Recognised by many as an important horizontal enabler to most of the Agenda’s 17 goals, Internet access is emerging as a key policy topic for major governmental and private institutions alike.

This increased focus on Internet access has, in turn, led to a plethora of new initiatives and strategies for bringing online the remaining 53% of the global population. However, achieving the goal of universal Internet access will only be successful and sustainable if the fundamentals for access growth are strong.

These fundamentals, which we call the “access enabling environment”, are the set of interrelated conditions across infrastructure, governance, and human capacity that provide the foundation for development and adoption of the Internet in any country or location.

In this light, the Internet Society was pleased to submit to the consultation and present our recent paper “A policy framework for enabling Internet access” which outlines these fundamentals. Written as a tool for policymakers as they approach the multi-faceted issue of creating an enabling environment, the framework provides what we believe are the necessary priorities for Internet Access:

  • Expanding Infrastructure,
  • Fostering Skills and Entrepreneurship,
  • Supportive Governance.

Together they allow us to approach the issue in a flexible and continuous manner, adaptable to the local and regional specific challenges, while also recognising the enabling environment’s dual purpose: to ensure that people can access the Internet and that they see an Internet that is accessible and relevant to them.

Importantly, no single stakeholder group can succeed in creating those favourable conditions on their own – making multistakeholder collaboration a key feature of any successful attempts.

This is hopefully one of the ITU membership’s key takeaways from the consultations because the variety of issues and views identified through the process also stem from the stakeholders’ sometimes unique perspectives. Whether it’s a question of a cohesive use of prefixes to describe your e-; digital-; or ICT-policies, the use of satellite access in remote areas, promoting local content, or ensuring fundamental rights online, they are all conditions that will impact the rate and scope of Internet development and adoption. Neglecting their point of view and concerns would be the greatest impediment to progress because in the end, it will require all of the stakeholders to create the conditions needed for success.

What will come of these consultations at the ITU is yet to be seen. What is important is that the open nature of these consultations be preserved and expanded upon, whereby all stakeholders can follow the discussions and contribute. Inviting all the stakeholders to share their views is a good starting point, but there is a need to continue the opening-up process. Transparency promotes trust – a key factor for successful collaborations and reduced uncertainties.

This is one of the key messages that the Internet Society will carry to the ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2016 as governments determine the future direction of the ITU Standardization Telecommunication sector.


Image credit: ITU Photos, CC-BY 2.0

Categories
Women in Tech

Unsolicited Advice: How to Be a Fearless Girl In ICT

Growing up, I wasn’t what you’d call a typical kid destined for a career in ICT (that stands for Information and Communications Technology. Yep, I had to Google it).

I was one of those kids that always knew what I wanted. I was captivated with radio and just wanted to spend my days working to gather up tidbits of people’s lives. Storytelling was in my blood.

I – being the stubborn person that I am – went ahead and did just that. I brought my love of storytelling to public and college radio, then over to the world I’m in today: as a defender of the open Internet and all the good it brings to my life.

Which Brings Me To Today

Yesterday I spent my afternoon at the very fabulous International Girls in ICT Day event at the International Telecommunications Union.

I was honored to speak with girls from across Geneva in as the kind of person I’ve never really considered myself to be: a role model for women in ICT.

But as I was there, talking to a room full of really amazing girls, it kind of hit me that maybe I did have a place there. Without technology I wouldn’t be able to do my job. And while I’ve spent many years working with ICT – I’ve just never thought of myself as a woman in ICT or one of a number closing the gender gap. And there I was, amongst so many other amazing women who were also role models.

First Piece of Unsolicited Advice For Girls Wanting To Work in ICT:

Know that you have allies. Lots of them.

While no one can argue that the number of women in tech is low – it’s definitely not zero. The industry is full of amazing, creative, gutsy women who are either building technology or using it to build more things.

We need to increase visibility of these women. There are, in fact, lots of us. We’re all around the world and we’re working to do amazing things. This week I met everyone from rocket scientists, to humanitarian aid workers, to fashion designers. All these women are amazing leaders who are using or building technology to change things.

So let’s keep shining a light on the diversity of women role models across the world. The louder we can make their voices, the better.

(By the way – are you part of our members’ only forum on Women in Tech? Sign up and take part. We’re an awesome bunch).

Second Piece of Unsolicited Advice For Girls Wanting To Work in ICT:

You’re in good company.

I was blown away by the caliber of young women I met. I remember being 15 and, let me tell you, I was not nearly as driven, well spoken or focused as these girls are.

I met girls who – without hesitation – said “I want to be a mad scientist” or “I want to work in abstract design” or “I’m not really sure but I know I like bossing everyone around!”

One girl told me she wanted a career in technology but was going to focus on how our cultural, racial, and gender biases impact our research. She is 15 (I know, right?)

I’m nearly 25 years older than many of these girls and they were highlighting career paths I had never even considered. I left the meeting feeling excited for our future and for the technology industry. I have no doubt these young women will change and shape the Internet and technology to what they need. That’s the beauty of it.

We’re in good hands.

Do You Have Any Tips? 

Are you a women in tech? What’s your advice for girls about to enter the workforce? 

Photo: “Girls in ICT Day 2015” © 2015 ITU PICTURES CC BY 2.0

Categories
Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Public Policy

The “Ubernet” is Not a Fait Accompli

The Economist ran an article recently that concluded the open Internet is on life support and may soon transform into something frightening:

“…[the decentralised, open-internet model of today] is looking less and less likely. Indeed, it now seems inevitable that the internet of tomorrow will rely on more top-down command and control than the bottom-up freedom of yesterday…

More than likely, people going online could find themselves spending most of their time within the confines of one or two mega-sites. Instead of visiting a multitude of different websites for different things, users could be confronted with a series of “walled gardens” built around app stores and proprietary services that offer everything from streaming video to holidays and household goods. As such, they will satisfy the visitors’ every need and whim, save one-the ease of venturing far and wide in the scary wilderness beyond the garden walls. Welcome to the Ubernet.”

The article cites a planning exercise conducted by Internet Society staff in 2009, detailing events that could impact the health of the Internet in the future. This ‘walled garden scenario’ (or ‘Porous Garden scenario’ as we refer to it) was only one of the Internet Society’s four potential future scenarios. Despite the fatalism of The Economist article, and the fact that we ourselves identified it as a possible outcome for what the Internet could look like in 2015, we don’t believe it to be inevitable.

When we embarked on this planning exercise, the process began with two questions: “Will the world embrace or resist the open Internet model?” and “What model will be more successful? Command and control? Or, distributed and decentralized?”

This exercise identified four potential future scenarios. In the Moats & Drawbridges Scenario , the Internet would become heavily centralized and dominated by a small number of big players, raising barriers to entry and limiting innovation at the edges. The Boutique Networks Scenario showed the Internet becoming fractionalized as separate, self-interested factions to optimize control in small sectors. In the Porous Garden Scenario, networks would remain global but access to content and services would be tied to the use of specific networks and associated information appliances. And finally, the Common Pool Scenario highlighted the growth of the open Internet with no insurmountable barriers to entry and innovation.

After more than five years since the initial identification of these potential outcomes, and as we anticipated in the scenario document itself, we have seen developments related to each. Government censorship of the Internet could support arguments that the ‘Moats and Drawbridges Scenario’ is a likely outcome in some countries. The use of proprietary single sign-on implementations that tie users to specific services could support arguments that the ‘Boutique Networks Scenario’ is on the horizon. Alternatively, the growth of certain online destinations for content and the coupling of applications to specific appliances could support a claim that the ‘Porous Garden Scenario’ is most likely.

Indeed, there have been a range of developments across the technical, economic, and political spheres that lay challenge to the open Internet. Over the years, however, the most constant characteristic of the Internet has been the pace of change. And looking through the lens of the scenarios, there is significant evidence that the “Ubernet” is not a fait accompli – but rather the open Internet, the ‘Common Pool’ Scenario, continues to thrive and provide benefits to the nearly three billion users today.

Fostering the ‘Common Pool’ Scenario

In the light of the dynamic change and generative possibilities the Internet itself brings, the reality is that the Internet will continue to evolve. For our part, the Internet Society believes that there are key properties that need to be preserved as part of its ongoing evolution (including openness, interoperability, open standards, and its multistakeholder model of development) which will enable the Internet to continue to serve as a platform for seemingly limitless innovation. And we work tirelessly with a range of stakeholders including government, business, civil society, individuals and technologists to ensure that the Internet continues to evolve as an open platform, one that serves the economic, social and educational needs of individuals throughout the world.

Over the past several weeks, for example, we’ve participated in the ITU Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, South Korea, an international treaty conference where ITU Member States (i.e., Governments) have the opportunity to revise and adopt plans for ITU activities and international recommendations relating to telecommunications and information technologies, including, and of greatest importance to us, matters that could impact the broader Internet ecosystem.

Throughout the conference, we have worked to ensure that this intergovernmental body as a whole and its Member States understand and uphold key attributes of the Internet that make it the engine for innovation, creativity, and communications we enjoy today. As we noted in our submission to the Plenipotentiary, we can not afford to stymie growth by returning to top-down policy and regulatory models of the past that are inappropriate for and inadequate to meet the promise of tomorrow’s Internet – as doing so would surely set the Internet on a path towards the negative outcomes identified in our alternative scenarios.

Despite the push at the Plenipotentiary by some countries toward a more top-down, government-controlled model, such proposals were largely averted due to a growing appreciation by many governments that the benefits derived from the Internet would be impeded by that approach – good news for the future of an open Internet and the “Common Pool.”

While there are many ongoing discussions about the broad future of the Internet and who, if anyone, should control it, no single entity owns the Internet today and there is no preordained outcome for its evolution. Only through the advancement of key Internet principles and broad collaboration amongst stakeholders in a manner that recognizes the roles, responsibilities, and expertise of different organizations and interests, can we can guide a positive future for the open Internet that will provide benefits for generations to come.

The Internet Society and many, many others across the Internet community work hard to promote and ensure a free, open and accessible Internet for all – one that is not walled, not censored, not fractured. We have to keep working. We must continue to be vigilant in defending the Internet’s principles of openness that has so clearly contributed to its growth to date. The “Ubernet” is not fait accompli and the Internet Society calls for everyone who supports the ‘Common Pool’ scenario to join with us to ensure these attributes of openness remain a central part of the Internet’s evolution.

Categories
Internet Governance Open Internet Standards

Making Progress on Internationalized Domain Names

By Sally Wentworth, Vice President, Global Policy Development, Internet Society and Nigel Hickson, Vice President, IGO Engagement, ICANN

This week, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea revisited the Role of administrations of Member States in the management of internationalized (multilingual) domain names, which is formally known as ITU Resolution 133 (Guadalajara, 2010). The discussion primarily focused on how to update Resolution 133 and evaluate the progress made since 2010.

This examination provides us with a timely opportunity to share data about the considerable progress made to deploy Internationalized Domain Names in the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone file.

Beginning of 2010, most top-level domain names were limited to the 128 American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), which is a character-encoding method. This meant that domain names consisting exclusively of non-Latin characters could not generally be used to navigate the Internet. However, at the same time, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and others were hard at work creating a robust, globally implementable Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) standard that would enable billions of new users to access the Internet in their local language script. In 2008, the IETF released a revised version of the IDNA standard. Russ Housley, Chairman of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and former Chairman of IETF, wrote about the IETF IDNA standards process here.

Once the IDNA standard was released, the world’s focus turned to deployment and use of IDNs. So, what has been achieved since then?

This simple answer is, quite a lot!

  • Today, 43 IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and 35 IDN generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are listed in the root.
  • Through ICANN’s new gTLD program, an additional 50 or more names are expected to be delegated in the next 12 months.
  • This growth includes over 800, 000 Cyrillic script IDNs registered under рф; 750,000 Han script IDNs under 中国/中國, and 台湾/台灣 and 12,000 under Arabic top-level domains (TLDs). More examples can be found in the World Report on Internationalized Domain Names 2014 (PDF)
  • ICANN is also working hard to seek participation from the community in so-called Generation Panels for each script represented in the Root Zone. Generation Panels still need to be formed for many scripts including: Cyrillic, Greek, Gujarati, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Sinhala, Tamil, Thai and others.

But what do these improvements mean in practice? By December 2013, there were over 6 million IDN domain names; which represents over 2% of the total number of domain names. This translates into a 215% growth in the last 5 years, an impressive increase in a short period of time.

While these numbers represent significant progress, there is still more work to be done to ensure people around the world can access the Internet in their local script. As the Internet continues to grow and more local content is created, the use of IDNs will also grow. It is crucially important users have choices in their language and we are committed to making that a reality.

Help set the standards for script in your language by volunteering to establish and participate in a generation panel now. Email ICANN at idntlds@icann.org to learn more.

[Edited for minor technical clarifications on Nov 4th, 2014]

Categories
Internet Governance Public Policy

Plenipot Update: 28 October 2014 – The Real Work Begins

Week 2 of the ITU Plenipotentiary began last week by concluding on elections of the Radio Regulations Board and the ITU Council.   This means that the parties and receptions come to an end and the long, hard and sometimes tedious work of negotiating the text begins.    The good news is that they gave us Sunday off so, in theory, people are rested and ready for a long week!

If you’ve been to an ITU meeting, you’ll know that at this stage of a 3-week conference, countries are still introducing their ideas and staking out their ground on various topics.  Small group conversations explore opportunities for compromise, but in the main sessions, more and more text goes into square brackets to reflect that there is no consensus.

On the issue of Internationalized Domain Names (Res 133), countries are looking to update the 2010 Resolution in light of progress made in this area since then.  There is a debate on whether to include references to work outside the ITU by the technical community and other multistakeholder processes where the work has taken place.  The room was also divided on what work the ITU should do on this issue going forward.

With regard to IP networks (Res 101), there are numerous proposals to update the existing Resolution, including adding economic language on international interconnection costs, security, and “unlawful international surveillance”.   There was very little progress made and most language is in square brackets. After a late-night debate over this Resolution, no agreement was reached and we’ll be back at it again either today or tomorrow.

A separate ad hoc group considered the ITRs, in particular how to review the ITRs and, if so, on what schedule.  Countries disagree on the starting point for a review – should it be 2012 (when the WCIT happened) or 2015 (when the new ITRs come into force for those who signed)?  The scope, nature and outcome of a possible ITR review has not yet been agreed and we expect another ad hoc meeting.  A proposal that the ITU should host the next World Telecom Policy Forum (WTPF) on review of the ITRs is still under discussion.

Finally, another evening ad hoc meeting took up the issue of illicit use of ICTs (Res 174).  A host of proposals from countries would include references to various UNGA Resolutions on cybersecurity, privacy and other topics related to national security matters.  Other countries expressed concern that additions of these references would, in effect, expand the scope of the resolution to include topics that are outside the ITU mandate. In addition, there is a proposal to consider a global charter on ICT Security but this has not been agreed.

So, we’re on to another day.

For Wednesday, 28 October, the meeting will turn its focus to the following topics:

  • ITU role in the High Level Review of WSIS;
  • Alternative calling procedures (Res 21)
  • Apportionment of revenues (Res 22)
  • Confidence and security (Res 130)

You can find out more by visiting our page on Plenipot14 or by reading our Issues Matrix.

Categories
Internet Governance

Plenipot Update 24 October: New Leadership of the ITU

The first official week of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference wrapped up today by finally reaching the conclusion of the election of the Deputy Secretary General.  Mr. Malcolm Johnson of the United Kingdom was elected as Deputy Secretary General of the ITU in the fourth ballot. 

In addition, the ITU Members elected the other members of the senior ITU team:

  • Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau – François Rancy (France)
  • Director of the Development Bureau – Brahima Sanou (Burkina Faso)
  • Director of the Standardization Bureau – Chasesub Lee (Republic of Korea)

The Internet Society would like to congratulate the new leadership of the ITU and we look forward to a productive working relationship over the coming years.

After much anticipation, the Working Group of Plenary took up the so-called “Internet related matters”.  Countries debated whether the scope of the ITU’s existing mandate in this area is sufficient or whether more work by the ITU is needed in areas such as IP addressing, Internet security, Internet Exchange Points, to name just a few.   Unsurprisingly, there was no consensus on these points and the work has been moved to an ad hoc group chaired by Italy.  This group will begin meeting on Saturday and, with the number of proposals to consider, I expect this to be a long debate over the course of several days.

Plenipot is also debating whether to make any changes to the ITU Constitution and Convention, the treaty text.  Thus far, the trend of the debate is to support a “stable” Constitution and Convention and, as such, not to modify the treaty.  This is important because it means that the ITU’s treaty mandate would not expand as a result of this Conference.   In addition, the Member States are considering how often to host WCITs – there is a proposal to hold the next WCIT every eight years but some countries have raised concern with holding the WCIT too often.  This will be discussed further in a smaller group.

Finally, the ITU Secretary General hosted a consultation with civil society in order to keep the dialogue open. Additional meetings will be held as the meeting goes on.  Dr. Toure posted a blog today on ITU engagement with civil society.

Categories
Internet Governance

Congratulations to Mr. Houlin Zhao

We would like to congratulate Mr. Houlin Zhao who was elected Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) today. Mr. Zhao, a citizen of China, will take over the position from current Secretary General Hamadoun Toure on January 1, 2015.  Mr. Zhao has been Deputy Secretary General of the ITU for the past eight years and served  as Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) for the previous eight years.  

We look forward to a productive collaborative relationship with Mr. Zhao and with the ITU under his leadership.

I also want to express our appreciation to Dr. Hamadoun Toure, who has made expansion of broadband infrastructure among his highest priorities.  We look forward to working with him through 2014 and wish him the very best as he moves to the next phase of his career.

Categories
Development Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Broadband for Development

We live in a fast-paced world led by ICT innovation. As many know, we have been experiencing an exponential growth in data traffic, mobile communications, cloud computing, social networking, and ICT applications for a smarter world. This growth is powered by affordable and ubiquitous broadband, innovation, and strong human capacity. Now access to high-speed networks becomes ever-so-more important, particularly in light of the emergence of big data and as new infrastructure is built, necessary for accelerating transition from an information to knowledge society.    

Not everyone has access to infrastructure, however, or to the power of communications. This is the reason the Internet Society has made development a core priority – we are dedicated to it.  We have been building capacity around the world in Internet communities of interest for more than 22 years. This priority remains strong, and is demonstrable, for example, through the regional work we have been doing to facilitate the growth of IXPs, DNS and spam workshops, and wireless Internet projects with regional and local partners.

This dedication – the great work our teams and partners do around the world to train, develop, and assist in technical and governance infrastructure – is also why we believe strongly in working more closely with the ITU’s Development Sector, known as ITU-D. We participated today in a strategic dialogue to set the stage for the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference that will take place over the next two weeks in Dubai. This dialogue highlighted the need for diverse forms of broadband infrastructure, issues related to user needs, and the importance of removing barriers to connectivity. One of the key issues that we highlighted is the importance of removing the barriers to investment, infrastructure development, and more transparency with respect to regulatory and policy issues.

We are looking forward to the conference this week here in Dubai, listening to the needs of colleagues around the world and matching that up with where we can continue to partner and build infrastructure, human capacity, and access to that infrastructure which empowers users and allows  more innovation, more business operators, and better access for all.  

 

 

Categories
Development Internet Governance

Putting the WTDC into a Broader Context

2014 will be a watershed year for the future of the Internet. The disclosures last year of large-scale surveillance programmes have caused a tectonic shift in the Internet governance landscape and undermined the trust necessary to the good functioning of the Internet.  

Major conferences are taking place this year and next year. They will provide opportunities to restore trust in the Internet but they can also be a threat, as some governments will be tempted to seize them to gain control over Internet governance arrangements. 

The Internet Society continues to hold the view that distributed, bottom-up multistakeholder Internet governance arrangements, based on voluntary cooperation between many different organizations are best suited to the underlying distributed technology. In contrast to the flexible current system, a top-down intergovernmental model would be too rigid and would stifle the further development of the Internet. 

The preparatory process for some of the coming conferences has already started. Preparations for the 10 year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS +10) are ongoing and planning for the  2014 meeting of the Internet Governance Forum is well underway.    In addition, many of us are looking forward to an important dialogue on Internet governance in Sao Paulo, Brazil in just a few weeks time.

The first major conference this year will be the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC). The WTDC will begin later this week in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and continue through 10 April 2014. The WTDC will be an opportunity for the ITU and its members to focus on a key challenge – how to ensure that everyone around the globe benefits from communications.  The Internet Society believes this is an important opportunity for constructive dialogue.  

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in 2012 was unnecessarily divisive, but at the same time it provided a great deal of insight into developing country priorities with respect to the Internet. Many of these countries want to become part of the information economy, but they have important questions and, in many cases, legitimate concerns. They have concerns about the high cost of connectivity. They have concerns about privacy, consumer protection and spam. They have a hunger for education in the areas of IP addressing and numbering—no country wants to be victimized by number misuse or fraud. These countries have a desire to make smart infrastructure investments; to get answers to weighty questions surrounding censorship and human rights; and to have their experts represented in technical standards processes.

To tackle these challenges in sustainable, robust fashion, all stakeholders need to be included in the discussion and in the development of solutions – at the global, regional and global levels.   ISOC is firmly committed to a vision of development that facilitates this kind of engagement – our work to enable IXP deployment, to encourage deployment of IPv6 and to build local communities of technical expertise is grounded in this basic approach. 

The WTDC should be seen as part of a broader policy process. A positive outcome can have a constructive influence on WSIS+10 and the ITU Pleanipotentiary. However, we will also have to be prepared that some countries will also be tempted to re-open the Tunis Agenda and restructure existing Internet governance arrangements arrangements in favour of a more intergovernmental model. The same dynamics may emerge at the ITU Plenipotentiary, where some governments could seek to expand the ITU’s treaty mandate into the Internet space.

Over the coming weeks, we will use our blog to highlight a series of activities and messages that we hope will showcase that the multistakeholder model of development is real and working. The Internet Society, operating at the intersection of technology, development and policy is uniquely positioned to help ensure that the basic invariants of the open Internet remain in place and are sustained through this challenging period. 

Categories
Internet Governance

Power of Internet for Disaster and Environmental Control

The internet Governance Forum 2013 that was currently held in Bali, Indonesia from 21 – 25 October has recently ended. It brought many stakeholders to discuss in open forums about many super interesting topics related to Internet. As one of the IGF Ambassador this year, I`d like to share the first session I attended on how Internet functions as the disaster and environmental control.

This session was moderated by Izumi Aizu the Senior Research Fellow & Professor at Institute for InfoSocinomics, Tama University and presented several speakers;  Fumi Yamazaki, a Developer Advocate in Developer Relations team at Google, Ambar Sari Dewi from Jalin Merapi Indonesia and Tomas Lamanauskas, the head of the Corporate Strategy Division at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Ambar Sari Dewi from Jalin Merapi (Merapi Circle Information Network) began the session by sharing how Jalin Merapi utilizes technology to monitor the Merapi volcano activities through the community radios and internet. As has been known, mount Merapi that is located between Yogyakarta and Central Java Province, is among the most active volcano on earth. Merapi’s character is hard to predict. The melting lava that came with deadly hot clouds could kill thousands of lives at Merapi’s slop. It only took less than 10 minutes for the flaming lava and hot clouds to reach villagers residential said Ambar. Jalin Merapi has taken a role in bridging information from many sources in Merapi Mountain, this information then being uploaded to the website for wider access. Aside from field-update, Jalin Merapi website has many interactive features such as online messenger, discussion forum, maps and databases. Field-update are regularly delivered by handy talky and tag-message from cell-phone. Each tag-message sent to Jalin Merapi will automatically be displayed on website’s front page. Some villagers in Merapi slope who live in the city and abroad were able to monitor the villages’ situation through online messenger. Others were posting complaints and request of help by using tag-message. That information was also useful for others who are willing to provide help for the Merapi victims.

The next speaker in the session was Fumi Yamazaki from Google. She was sharing her experience on her several personal projects related to Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011. She also elaborated about how to help people recover from earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku area using technology. Some of her interesting projects were Tohoku Tech Dojo; a project to help youngsters in Tohoku to learn programming, The Great East Japan Earthquake Big Data Workshop: Project 311; a project to collect data from various entities, provide them to researchers and developers to analyze, in order to prepare for future disaster, and Recovery Hangout; a project to use live streaming service for the victims of Tohoku disaster to voice their opinion via the Internet. She also discussed about Google Person Finder app and how it provides great support during the 2011 Japan Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster.

Having two earlier topics presented on disaster response with internet, Tomas Lamanauskas as the last speaker brought up a little different topic on how internet contributed in environmental control. He discussed important role of ITU as the advisor for environmental climate change. He also brought up many significant involvement of ITU in responding the global climate change. ITU sees Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), such as satellites, mobile phones or the Internet, play a key role to address the major challenges related with climate change and sustainable development. Therefore, ITU is promoting transformative solutions by raising awareness on how to ICTs can be used.  For disaster response, Tomas also said that ITU provides satellite equipment for countries  requesting assistance during the disasters and ITU also created special call number for disaster relief in the format of (country code)-888.

Author: Teuku  A. Geumpana
The IGF Ambassador 2013
School of Computer Science Binus International University
Fulbright Scholar 2007 – University of Arkansas at Little Rock