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Internet Governance Public Policy

Finding Common Ground on U.S. Net Neutrality

After more than a decade of regulatory ping pong, net neutrality’s future in the United States is still unclear.

Since 2004, FCC rulemakings have been caught in a vicious cycle. They have been passed, fought in court, and returned to the FCC with minor (and sometimes major) revisions. In the last few years there have also been numerous attempts to pass legislation, cementing net neutrality once and for all, but nothing has succeeded in Congress.

Recognizing the importance of finding a sustainable solution, the Internet Society proposed a collaborative process to help experts find common ground on this complex policy issue. Starting in June 2018, we convened an ideologically diverse group of experts to create a baseline set of principles for an open Internet. 

The Net Neutrality Experts’ Roundtable series included representatives from the technical community, edge providers, academia, Internet service providers, industry associations, and both left- and right-leaning civil society groups.

In a series of meetings over ten months, participants discussed how to create a sustainable solution for net neutrality that protect the interests of Internet users while fostering an environment that encourages investment and innovation. 

Ultimately, the group was able to create a consensus-driven set of bipartisan principles for an open Internet in the United States.

It is important to note that the Net Neutrality Principles do not represent or replace the existing positions of the Internet Society or any organization that participated in the project.

Instead, they demonstrate the power of inclusive processes in allowing experts to reach common ground on complex issues, and in delivering a concrete outcome. To us, this work is proof of the value of the collaborative approach.  

Our report on this process outlines the need for a sustainable net neutrality policy in the United States, the importance of using a collaborative model for policymaking, and details about the Net Neutrality Experts’ Roundtable Series.

The Internet Society is pleased to have facilitated a collaborative effort to help experts find common ground on net neutrality in the U.S. The bipartisan principles give policymakers a powerful tool to create a solution that upholds a truly open Internet for all. We would like to sincerely thank all participants of this process for their time, effort, and dedication.

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Growing the Internet Public Policy

Net Neutrality Round Table

Debates regarding net neutrality regulation in the United States have been carried out for over a decade. Rulemakings by the FCC have been passed numerous times, won and lost in court, and been repealed, resulting in years of political back and forth. Now, net neutrality is being argued for and against on Capitol Hill and its regulatory future is unclear.

To address this political limbo, the Internet Society convened experts from the technical community, public interest groups, and academia to discuss how we can create a permanent solution for net neutrality that protect the interests of Internet users while fostering an environment that encourages investment and innovation. During this half-day event, participants began a conversation to define net neutrality, what conduct it should cover, how compliance could be assured, and how to balance consumer and private sector interests.

The discussion was moderated by Larry Stickling, Executive Director of the Collaborative Governance Project at the Internet Society, and included a balanced group of politically left- and right-leaning public interest groups, private sector organizations, and academics. The event was under Chatham House Rule and did not allow tweeting during the meeting in order to encourage participants to freely and respectfully voice their opinions.

Participants began by discussing high-level principles for the open Internet and agreed that Michael Powell’s 2004 ‘Internet Freedoms’ were a good starting point. With a few adjustments, the group reached consensus on the following principles for the open Internet:

  • Users should have access to their choice of legal content.
  • Users should be able to run and create applications of their choice.
  • Users should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes.
  • Users should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.

The discussion then turned to stakeholder expectations. Participants identified six relevant stakeholder groups that may impact or be impacted by these principles, including Broadband Internet Access Providers (BIAP), users, platforms, content providers, device makers, and the government. They then attempted to reach consensus on what each stakeholder group should reasonably be expected to do to uphold the agreed upon open Internet principles. Though several points were discussed for each, the group agreed that “protect security” and “be transparent” were reasonable expectations for every stakeholder group, though implemented in different ways depending on the stakeholder.

After establishing the principles of the open Internet, relevant stakeholders, and expectations of stakeholders, the group discussed how to define net neutrality. All participants agreed that any rules must include protection against blocking or throttling of content. The group determined that net neutrality must include a degree of transparency and a prohibition against any anticompetitive interference, though there was not consensus on how to define either of those terms. They also agreed that net neutrality must be subject to reasonable network management, though a means of defining “reasonable” was not reached, and that there must be a general conduct standard.

To end the conversation, participants discussed which regulatory agency should be assigned the task of ensuring net neutrality is upheld. Ultimately, the participants agreed that, with concessions and the creation of a general conduct standard, they could live with either the FCC or the FTC as the net neutrality regulatory body. However, some participants cautioned that the FTC has shortcomings that would need to be addressed in further discussions.

Moving forward, this group has agreed to continue to meet in an attempt to reach consensus on what a general conduct standard may look like, whether or not paid prioritization should be included in the definition of net neutrality or whether a general conduct standard could replace it, and how penalties or remedies should be addressed.

The Internet Society was very pleased with the open conversation participants engaged in and the progress that was made as a result. We look forward to hosting additional meetings in the coming months as we attempt to find a multistakeholder solution to the net neutrality regulatory debate in the United States.

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

US Senate Makes Moves to Reinstate Net Neutrality, But Sustainable Rules Are Still Necessary

On May 16, the Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order. A CRA allows Congress to review regulations issued by government agencies and overrule them with a majority vote. This vote, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), is a step towards reinstating the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

The CRA will now move to the House, where it will require a majority vote in order to pass before heading to President Trump’s desk for his signature. If the CRA passes the House and gets the President’s signature, the 2015 Order will be reinstated.

Despite the CRA’s success in the Senate, it is unlikely that it will pass the House. In the Senate, every Democrat, two Independents, and three Republicans were needed to pass the CRA. In the House, Democrats hold just 193 of 435 seats and would need to be joined by 25 Republican or Independent Representatives to move the CRA to the President’s desk. Even then, the bill would face another major hurdle, as President Trump has previously expressed support for overturning the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

This is not to mention the court cases currently filed against the FCC over its repeal of the Open Internet Order. If the CRA fails to pass, these cases will continue for many months, with no clear timeline or outcome. If the CRA does pass, the cases will drop, but new ones are likely to be filed arguing against the reinstatement of the Order.

The motion still has a long way to go. The legal battle for net neutrality has already lasted years and could be drawn out for several more before sustainable, concrete rules are put in place. This will only increase confusion among end users and service providers. It is time to come up with a long-lasting compromise that prioritizes the needs of end-users and ensures a policy environment that encourages investment and innovation.

While we applaud Congress’ effort to ensure that the Internet remain open and accessible, we encourage all stakeholders to come together to propose a sustainable solution. Congressional representatives, government agencies, service providers, edge-providers, and public interest groups must work together to create and implement a solution and end the state of back-and-forth policy-making that has existed for too long.

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

New Developments in the Net Neutrality Debate

Democrats in the USA haven’t given up on net neutrality since the FCC voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order in December.

Senator Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has put forward a bill that would use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision. The CRA allows lawmakers 60 legislative days after the FCC submits its regulations to Congress to take action.

That bill now has the support of more than 40 Senators, including Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), its first Republican supporter.

Senator Markey needs 52 votes to get the bill passed in the Senate, which is unlikely given that Republicans remain in control of both chambers of Congress. Nevertheless, Democrats see value in forcing a vote on the bill ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Polls indicate that 83 per cent of Americans support keeping the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

If the bill fails to move forward, Congress may pursue a legislative solution – a bill that would codify net neutrality rules into law, rather than a reversal of the FCC’s decision. In fact, the Republicans are possibly signaling an appetite to come to a legislative solution to this issue. Regardless of the legal mechanism employed to achieve net neutrality, the Internet Society believes it is imperative to ensure that Internet users should be able to access the content and services they choose without corporate or government interference.


Image credit: Jomar Thomas on Unsplash

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

Net Neutrality and the FCC’s December 14 Vote

Net neutrality is defined differently in different circles. For the Internet Society, it means that an Internet service provider should not block, filter, throttle a users’ Internet usage, or give preferential treatment to one end user or content provider over another. Fundamentally, everyone should be able to access the content and services they choose without corporate or government interference. We believe this will ensure the Internet remains an engine for innovation, free expression, and economic growth. In some jurisdictions, this may require policy, regulatory, and technical measures.

On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is likely to vote to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, which classified broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Under FCC Chairman Pai’s proposal, the FCC would yield authority over broadband providers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Since the announcement of that vote, many American Internet users have been anxious that their Internet service provider may undo their commitments to provide open access to the Internet for their customers. They are right to be anxious. We are already seeing signs that ISPs may change their net neutrality commitments in light of the upcoming ruling.

American users have been speaking out about what they need and expect from their Internet service experience. Those needs seem to boil down to four things: the free flow of information, competition in the marketplace, consumer choice, and privacy protections.

We call on the US Government to listen to their concerns carefully. American users deserve a sustainable solution that will ensure they have access, choice, and transparency in the broadband market. They deserve to have a watchdog in place to ensure that these principles are protected. Regardless of the legal mechanism employed to achieve net neutrality, the Internet Society believes it is imperative to ensure that Internet users, and the principles of access, choice, and transparency, are at the center of any regulatory regime.

Beyond the U.S., Chairman Pai’s announcement has caused a global reaction. Although the issue at hand is domestic to the U.S., the vote could have global implications. As I’ve written before, “Washington exists in a policy fishbowl.” The world pays attention to the actions of the US Government. If we want the global Internet to continue to develop as a positive driver for social and economic progress, we need to consider that actions here have an impact on Internet users everywhere, and consider the effects that reality might have at home.

The fight for net neutrality is bigger than the vote on December 14. Over our 25 years of working at the heart of the Internet, we have stood firm in our belief that the Internet empowers users with certain abilities, and that these abilities – to Connect, to Speak, to Innovate, to Share, to Choose, to Trust – underpin the social value of the Internet. If the FCC does, in fact, repeal the Open Internet Order, we, the Internet community, must redouble our efforts to ensure that these principles remain at the heart of the Internet experience for everyone, everywhere.

We must insist on vigilance from our policymakers and accountability from Internet providers. For that reason, we ask that before and after the vote, you raise your voice in favor of a sustainable solution, one that will preserve the values that the Internet Society stands for. We can’t afford anything less.

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

We need a more sustainable approach to Network Neutrality

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai announced that in the FCC’s upcoming December 14 meeting they will vote to remove the Title II classification of Internet service providers.

As we outlined in our Policy Brief on Network Neutrality, the core principles of choice and transparency are fundamental to a free and open Internet that benefits users around the world. Simply put, users should be able to access the Internet content and services they choose without corporate or government interference.

Now is not the time to give up on these goals. Regardless of the action the FCC takes in the coming weeks, the Internet Society will continue to fight alongside allies around the world for our fundamental goal – to ensure an open Internet, characterized by access, choice and transparency for all users around the world.

Thus, we believe that strong rules are still needed – merely focusing on transparency is not enough to protect users’ access to an Open Internet.

We hope that the U.S. government can take a more sustainable approach to net neutrality; one that upholds the principles that are rooted in the Internet Society’s core values of a global and open Internet. Between seemingly endless court battles and the fact that FCC regulations can change from one US Presidential administration to another, it is clear that we need to try something different. Americans need clarity in this debate.

The future of the open Internet is in each of our hands. To #shapetomorrow we need to work together to find new ways to ensure an open Internet is available for everyone.


Image credit: Blaise Alleyne on Flickr  CC BY 2.0

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

We need a more sustainable approach to Network Neutrality

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai announced that in the FCC’s upcoming December 14 meeting they will vote to remove the Title II classification of Internet service providers.

As we outlined in our Policy Brief on Network Neutrality, the core principles of choice and transparency are fundamental to a free and open Internet that benefits users around the world. Simply put, users should be able to access the Internet content and services they choose without corporate or government interference.

Now is not the time to give up on these goals. Regardless of the action the FCC takes in the coming weeks, the Internet Society will continue to fight alongside allies around the world for our fundamental goal – to ensure an open Internet, characterized by access, choice and transparency for all users around the world.

Thus, we believe that strong rules are still needed – merely focusing on transparency is not enough to protect users’ access to an Open Internet.

We hope that the U.S. government can take a more sustainable approach to net neutrality; one that upholds the principles that are rooted in the Internet Society’s core values of a global and open Internet. Between seemingly endless court battles and the fact that FCC regulations can change from one US Presidential administration to another, it is clear that we need to try something different. Americans need clarity in this debate.

The future of the open Internet is in each of our hands. To #shapetomorrow we need to work together to find new ways to ensure an open Internet is available for everyone.


Image credit: Blaise Alleyne on Flickr  CC BY 2.0

Categories
Public Policy

What net neutrality is (and isn’t)

There are few Internet policy issues as divisive as net neutrality, neither are there many issues that apparently elicit such passion. At the root of the debate is, in my opinion, not necessarily the principles of net neutrality; rather, I believe it is in the mechanism used to enforce it.

While there is no single interpretation of what net neutrality is, there are certain accepted principles set forth by Timothy Wu (who coined the term in 2003) that are widely accepted. This includes the principle that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally or ‘neutrally’ by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) without blocking, throttling or discriminating against a competitor’s content or services.

Over the years, almost all participants in the Internet ecosystem—from civil society and public advocates to the largest Silicon Valley tech companies to ISPs themselves—have come around to agreeing with this general version of these principles.

The Internet Society published a policy brief on net neutrality in 2015. In this brief, we outline how openness is a fundamental value that has contributed to the success of the Internet, both in the U.S. and around the world. We have always supported the values of a truly global and open Internet based on transparency, access and choice.

Simply put, the Internet Society believes net neutrality means that ISPs should ensure Internet users have unhampered access to the legal content they want. We believe these principles should lead the way for the Internet’s continued growth and success globally. Further, we firmly believe that a multistakeholder process is the best way to develop the policy tools needed to preserve the open Internet in the future.

When the FCC voted on the Open Internet Order in 2015, we were concerned about whether an outdated statute like Title II was the right vehicle to preserve these core principles. At the same time, we knew that after a long and, at times, tortured proceeding, the U.S. Internet market needed a stable legal foundation, of which net neutrality is a part, that would generate the confidence to support growth, investment, competition, and opportunity. With the latest announcement from the FCC, the U.S. is once again faced with instability and lack of regulatory certainty. On the one hand, we have consensus on the principles, but on the other we have no clarity on how or if they will be enforced.

The time has come to put this issue to rest. What is needed is an approach to the open Internet that upholds the core Internet principles, provides market stability, a solution that puts consumers at the center, and creates opportunity for the future. Indeed, if we can learn anything from the net neutrality debate in the U.S. over the past decade, it is that a multistakeholder approach is urgently needed. We can no longer rely on traditional regulatory processes to develop solutions that can keep pace with the technologies of the future.

For this reason, I hope that the U.S. government can take a more sustainable approach to net neutrality; one that upholds the principles that are rooted in the Internet Society’s core values of a global and open Internet. Americans need clarity in this debate. By adopting a multistakeholder approach to develop a clear, sustainable and fair legal framework for net neutrality – one that reflects the dynamic nature of the Internet – we can finally achieve that stability that is so needed.

Should the U.S. government choose to adopt such an approach, I would look forward to participating in a meaningful multistakeholder process, along with diverse stakeholders, to seek consensus on an enduring framework that will continue the success of the global Internet for generations to come.

Categories
Public Policy

CRTC Decision Creates a Canadian Framework for Net Neutrality

Yesterday’s decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should be welcomed by advocates of net neutrality. Though not an ideal decision in certain respects, and continuing to make clear the need for specific, updated legislation on online connectivity and communication, it does nevertheless enshrine some of key principles of net neutrality in the CRTC’s regulatory framework.

Originating from a specific complaint against zero-rating data practices by Quebec-based ISP Videotron, the ruling builds a general framework for online traffic treatment practices which effectively bans differential treatment of data based on its origin point. In other words, ISPs, whether fixed or mobile, will no longer be able to offer packages which do not count certain preferred services or websites towards data caps, or to offer preferred speeds to these content providers.

There are, however, some details in which the framework is less effective than it could be and where future rulings will be critical to clarify and strengthen the principles laid out in this initial framework.

The CRTC derived its authority in making the decision from subsection 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act, and specifically dealt with the question of zero-rating or discounting of retail Internet traffic to consumers. Critically, the ruling does not affect the ability of ISPs to manage Internet protocol networks internally or to negotiate between each other for data and bandwidth sharing.

The Commission set out several criteria by which the decision was made, including impact on Internet openness and innovation, but with the main one being if, “the treatment of data is agnostic”; in effect, this puts neutral treatment of data at the heart of the CRTC’s decision-making process in regards to the Internet for the foreseeable future. This decision effectively means that competition between Internet providers and packages will now need to be based on a combination of price, connection speeds, network coverage and data bandwidth, rather than preferentially-treated services. In this respect, the decision builds upon and formally outlines principles underlying previous cases where service providers were forced to disclose bandwidth “throttling” practices and to discontinue using zero-rating practices for branded online television streaming.

With this said, the ruling also contains some unclear elements and potential loopholes for abuse that detract from its overall impact. The major factor is that, rather than adopting clear rules on disallowed practices, the CRTC has opted for a complaints-based approach to violations of the net neutrality framework adopted. Though there are concerns that adopting strict rules would not address quickly evolving ISP practices, creating a complaints-based framework could also lead to an access problem on the part of consumers, particularly those with low incomes or limited amounts of time. Contrary to submissions from net neutrality advocates, including some smaller ISPs, the decision stated that a new code for net neutrality was unnecessary in light of a body of regulations stemming from this and previous rulings. Again, in this respect, it falls short of a full commitment to net neutrality principles, even as it generally adheres to them. The Commission also effectively declined to rule or launch further proceedings on the question of data capping and throttling procedures, instead referring to previous decisions designed to increase network access and facilitated greater consumer bandwidth.

The CRTC’s placing of the onus on consumers to bring forward practice complaints, rather than taking a more proactive approach, is likely to make future action on emerging ISP practices more cumbersome in practice. As well, there are concerns, akin those around to the FCC’s previous use of Title II authority, that utility-like regulation of the Internet could stifle innovation. Those concerns aside, the ruling does create a framework for arguably more consumer-friendly ISP practices moving forward and one which explicitly recognize the goals of openness and innovation online.

This post was authored by Carter Vance, intern with the North American Regional Bureau, and Mark Buell, Regional Bureau Director for North America.

Categories
Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Privacy

Asia-Pacific reaches out to a digital future

The future of the Internet was very much present at the 15th Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Policy and Regulatory Forum (APT PRF) in Singapore last week. Much of the conversation was around anticipated developments in mobile, touted to be the fastest adopted technology of all time and central to increased digital take-up in the region. The trend is easily tangible in economies like Japan, where ultrahigh-speed mobile broadband subscriptions had surpassed those of fixed line two years ago.

And this is only a hint of things to come. Gartner projects that the number of connected ‘things’ will go up to 25 billion by 2020 from 4.9 billion today–exceeding smartphones and PCs combined by nearly five times. Meanwhile, investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining traction outside the ICT industry, propelled by the promise that machine-to-machine communication brings—and it isn’t just cost savings and improved productivity: In the development sector, for instance, ubiquitous connectivity can help to address information gaps, which can be as much as four years for areas like education and child mortality.

The centre of attention at the PRF was 5G, which pundits say should be ready for commercial use by 2020. While the standards aren’t set yet, the mobile industry is aiming for it to have 1,000x the system capacity of LTE, with a latency of less than 1 millisecond and peak speeds of more than 10Gbps—30x that of 4G. Among other things, it will allow simultaneous connections with a wider range of devices, including sensor networks. 5G is also expected to be able to combine signals from multiple frequency bands, ranging from low VHF-band to high millimeter-band —rather than relying on a single band—using spectrum more flexibly depending on location, time, and application, thus enabling more stable connectivity.

The potential gains of this dynamism are not lost on Asia-Pacific. Many countries have responded with a flurry of rules and frameworks to facilitate the growth of a digital economy. For instance Laos, which recently carried out an e-transaction law, is currently drafting infrastructure sharing and data pricing regulations. A number of countries are likewise in the process of freeing up more frequency bands to accommodate more advanced mobile and wireless technologies. But more forward-looking plans are needed. The Philippines’ upcoming provision on Internet service quality, for instance, defines broadband as a 256kbps connection rate, while Indonesia is aiming for a modest 1 Mbps mobile broadband speed for half of its rural population by 2019. Faster access beyond cities is crucial especially for countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh where at lest 60% of the population live in rural areas.

But emerging economies are also making headway in digital inclusion. Mobile financial services, which allows the unbanked to maintain savings accounts, avail of small loans, and purchase insurance, has grown rapidly in South Asia. Pakistan’s six year-old Easy Paisa for instance has a 15 million user base. Bangladesh, where the doctor to patient ratio is 1:15,000, has become a trailblazer for rural ehealth with programmes like Amader Daktar. The integrated ICT-based system includes ‘doctor in a tab,’ an app that allows rural patients to consult with and receive advice and prescriptions from Dhaka-based doctors with the help of a local health worker.

The importance of getting the fundamentals right could not be clearer in countries that have stayed ahead of the curve. Singapore, which expects to pilot self-driving cars and automated homes in 2016, has a nationwide high speed, optical fibre network and 87% broadband penetration as of 2014. The island state, which topped the World Economic Forum’s global Networked Readiness Index this year, was also among the first to publish a regulatory framework for TV white space use in wireless connectivity. Meanwhile South Korea has rolled out a ‘Cloud First’ policy for its public and private sectors alongside a legal framework promoting anonymisation technologies to address the rise in big data. By 2020, some 70% of mobile data traffic is expected to go through the cloud, necessitating more robust and effective data protection regimes.

At the meeting, the OECD identified competition, consumer protection, security, privacy and openness as essential ingredients to a digital economy. But to make the IoT era happen also requires networks, systems and devices that are low-cost and low-power, with enough capacity to accommodate richer content and more connections. For emerging countries in Asia-Pacific, preparing for the future also means going back to the basics: investing in policies and infrastructure to make fast, reliable and affordable Internet access possible for everyone.

Categories
Economy

OTT and the Thai Digital Economy

According to the Thai Digital Entertainment Content Federation, the Thai content industry remains fragmented and undersubscribed. In terms of size, Thailand’s over-the-top (OTT) market is relatively small, representing 1% of the total APAC market in 2014, according to IDC. The potential of the Thai digital content nonetheless is considered bright. It is the second largest digital content producer on YouTube, only a close second to Japan, and is one of the largest markets in the region for social media platforms such as Line, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The Thai government has identified the content industry as one of the key sectors to enable innovative services for the growth of its digital economy. Against this backdrop, the recent Asia Internet Symposium (AIS) in Bangkok this month examined how and why the Thai content industry and users can leverage on the emerging OTT platform to unleash the potential of the Internet for socio-economic development.

OTT refers to upstream digital applications or services which ride on the open Internet without the direct involvement of network or Internet service providers. This typically includes content, application and service owners and providers such as Skype (VoIP), Google and Facebook.

The OTT revolution has already arrived with countless number of apps exploding every minute. According to an InMobi report, Asian economies were among the top app markets in the world last year when measured by per capita app downloads.

At the AIS, ISOC European Bureau Director Frederic Donck stated that industry observation by regulators reveal mechanisms to extend market dominance, whether through schemes like zero-rating, data caps or paid prioritisation are being carried out by carriers globally. He added that to ensure a level playing field, governments need to keep up with local and global industry developments, as free market alone does not guarantee fair competition, citing examples of collusion among telecom players in Europe.

Presently, there is a lack of uniformity in policies on over-the-top services. For instance, zero-rating is banned in several Europeans countries, but not in others like the US, where only paid prioritization is outlawed. There too lies the complexity in distinguishing between paid peering (considered acceptable) and paid prioritization (unfavourable practice): in the latter, priority transmission at congested nodes is guaranteed for paying content providers, which to advocates of Net neutrality goes against the core principle of an open Internet.

Some general guidelines and best practices can be drawn from more successful markets. The following for instance are being considered by the European Union:

Traffic management – this is considered part of an ISP’s normal operation, and its aim is to ensure that all users are able to access adequate service especially during peak times. It should (a) remain protocol or application neutral; (b) be transparent; (c) not be used as a tool for anti-competitive behavior; (d) not be used as a substitute for adding capacity to alleviate congestion.

Service –end-users should have the freedom to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice. This means that blocking, slowing down, degrading or discriminating against specific content, applications or services is prohibited, except when there is court order, or when there is a need to maintain network integrity and security, combat spam, or minimise network congestion. Consequently, specialised services need to define and publicly disclose their quality of service and any dedicated capacity they have for their customers.

The Internet remains the most disruptive innovation today and it continues to revolutionise and shape the future of its users in meaningful ways. Participants at the AIS concluded that OTT development should be actively encouraged as an avenue for innovation among different sectors in Thailand. In education, for instance the Thai Cyber University’s OTT platform complements the current online learning system—it has reinvented the life-long learning platform and has gone beyond old pedagogic approaches.  Meanwhile, the Thai Animation and Computer Graphics Association (TACGA) and the Muay Thai Association worked together to develop a self-study application on the art of Muay Thai as a way of preserving and learning about the national sport.

Numerous examples suggest that OTTs are an effective platform for open innovation, and in providing an opportunity for everyone to become creators or co-innovators. Technology wise, OTT is at the cusp of its own evolution:  the next generation of Internet/Web communication and telecom technologies, WebRTC by IETF-W3C, RCS/joyn by GSMA and mobile Internet via SoLoMo, all soon to be commercially launched will radically change how we experience the Internet and OTT services. But OTT development also comes with basic requirements:

·      An open, neutral and best effort Internet

·      An Internet protocol (IP) based network

·      Open standards that enable a multimodal platform environment

·      Affordable broadband Internet access

The regulation of OTTs has been heavily debated in many advanced markets and these discussions are now capturing the attention of emerging markets  like India and Indonesia. We believe this will not be last word on OTT nor Net neutrality. Keeping the conversation alive and supporting an open Internet will be key for our future as innovators and users of this global network of networks.

Categories
Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Public Policy

LACIGF and eLAC – Internet Governance Events in Mexico This Week

The 8th edition of LACIGF has started with a good energy and a full room! This is the beginning of a series of events taking place this week in Mexico that are mobilising key leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean that will shape the regional agenda for the information society.

8th LACIGF, 3-4 August

LACIGF stands for the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum from the Latin America and the Caribbean. For the past 8 years, the event has been consistently contributing to leverage the understanding of Internet Governance issues, to give the opportunity for regional stakeholders to come together and share information on the work that is being done on various topics at national and regional level. The main tangible results of previous events has been to draft a Regional Internet Governance Agenda, which has been submitted to the global IGFs sessions.

There is a multistakeholder Program Committee responsible for the overall coordination, comprised with representatives of the various actors and aimed at managing the process in representation of the Latin American and Caribbean community. LACNIC serves as the secretariat for LACIGF. The Internet Society (ISOC) is currently one of the representatives of technical community in this committee, as well as a long-stand supporting organization.

The agenda has been shaped through an open consultative process for a call of topics that are relevant within the region, that culminate in the following topics to be discussed: Human Rights, Surveillance and Privacy; Right to be Forgotten; Intellectual Property and Freedom of Expression, Net Neutrality; Digital Economy; Internet of Things; and Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion (in reply to MAG`s IGF call to further this theme within all regional and national IGFs). Moreover, the event will tackle the Roadmap for the regional Internet Governance agenda, the national IGFs efforts and the future of the LACIGF structure.

ISOC will be present with a strong delegation: our CEO & President Kathy Brown will deliver the closing remarks, Raul Echeberria will speak at the regional IG discussions, Sebastian Bellagamba is allocated at the Net Neutrality panel, Shernon Osepa will present our Global Internet Report at the Digital Economy session and Raquel Gatto will disseminate the Local IG Events toolkit and the LAC Youth@IGF program.

You can watch online through the live video streaming and participate in the twitter discussions using the hashtag #lacigf8

This year, the LACIGF has been located side-by-side with the high-level meeting on Information Society held by ECLAC, aiming to create more synergies within the regional events tackling the evolution and future of the Internet.

5th Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean 5-7 August

The conference aims to evaluate the achievements of the eLAC, a mechanism for regional policy dialogue created in 2005 to meet the UN MDGs and is also based on the WSIS-Geneva results [the Geneva Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action]. It is being held in Mexico City because the host country will assume the coordination for the eLAC2018.

The main outcome expected for the meeting is the LAC Digital Agenda for 2018, including the definition of the working groups for 2015-2018.

Initially set as an intergovernmental mechanism in the region, it has been continuously opening for the non-governmental actors. The technical community has a seat as observer, which is currently being represented by LACNIC. The conference in Mexico is starting tomorrow and will be open for anyone interested in participate.

Our CEO Kathy Brown will deliver opening remarks about digital technologies, economy and society, and Sebastian Bellagamba, LAC Bureau Director will moderate the panel 6 about “Implications of the Internet Governance for the regional context”, reinforcing the move to engage multiple actors in the eLAC processes.

Keep tuned as we share news on the event and follow us on twitter @ISOC_LAC. Hashtags for both meetings are #LACIGF8 and #eLAC2018, respectively.