Growing the Internet

The First Ethiopia Internet Development Conference: Meeting Challenge and Opportunity Head On

When it comes to Ethiopia’s future online, there are many reasons to feel optimistic.

The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, is strategically placed, and has a population of over 105 million, 60% of whom are under the age of 30. All of these are assets to make it a regional digital giant.

But this won’t happen unless Ethiopia takes some strategic moves. Internet penetration is still very low compared to its peers in Africa.  The rural areas are still largely unconnected to the Internet. Only cities enjoy 3G access and 4G is only available in the capital. In spite of successive price cuts by Ethio telecom in the last year, the Internet is not affordable for the majority of Ethiopians.

It’s not that the government has not wanted to connect the rural areas. In fact, the rationale that the Ethiopian government had to keep the monopoly was to use the money generated from cities to invest in the rural areas. However, this strategy has clearly not worked since Ethiopia’s rural areas are not better connected than those in countries that have not had a government monopoly on the sector, such as Kenya.

It is therefore good news that Ethiopia has liberalized the market, puts in place the Universal Service Fund (USF), and is requiring that the new entrants have coverage obligations. However, this should not be all. Unfortunately, both USF and coverage obligations have been used by many countries with limited success. Ethiopia should learn from others successes and failures and be open to enquire about new and many complimentary solutions to connect rural areas.

Ethiopia also has to build a real Internet ecosystem. As its telecom and Internet market opens up, it needs to build institutions and rules for the new market. It needs an independent Internet Exchange Point (IXP), a ccTLD standing on its own feet, many medium and small ISPs, and other service providers to cater to different needs. This is as much a challenge as an opportunity. On the one hand, Ethiopia does not have the required expertise, capital, etc. readily available. On the other hand, if it overcomes these hurdles, it will open job opportunities for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians.

But as much as the opportunities are real and exciting, it requires frank and continuous dialogue between the various stakeholders to bring real and positive change. There is no magic solution that is guaranteed to work. Thus, the only way to increase its chances of success is to develop a smart strategy by involving all actors and reviewing the strategy on a very regular basis.

It is therefore my great pleasure to announce the Ethiopia Internet Development Conference and the establishment of the Ethiopia Chapter of the Internet Society, which I believe are both important for this critical national dialogue.

Ethiopia’s first-ever Ethiopia Internet Development Conference will take place form 3-5 March in Addis Ababa. Hundreds of participants, from policymakers, local and international private sector organizations, academia, and civil society will sit together for concrete discussions about unlocking connectivity in Ethiopia. The registration for on-site attendance is closed but you can still attend online. (Please find information about online participation here.)

As highlighted in the 2020 Action Plan, engagement with the Internet Society community is key to our shared success. The long-awaited Internet Society Ethiopian Chapter, which officially launched 2 March at the Addis Hilton Hotel, will be a forum for all stakeholders to meet and work together for the development of the Internet in Ethiopia.

Help shape the Internet’s future. Join Internet Society Ethiopian Chapter!

About Internet Society Internet of Things (IoT) Privacy Security Shaping the Internet's Future

The Internet Society’s African Chapters Join the African Union and Other Partners to Discuss IoT Security, Privacy, and Digital ID in Africa

In collaboration with the Africa Union Commission (AUC), the Africa Telecommunication Union (ATU), and Omidyar Network, from 8-11 April 2019 the Africa Regional Bureau successfully gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 103 participants comprising Internet Society Chapter leaders, African Regional economic bodies, privacy experts, regulators, and data protection agencies to a two-day workshop on IoT Security, Privacy, and Digital ID followed by the 2019 African Chapters Advocacy Meeting.

The first day of the workshop focused on IoT opportunities and security considerations. It explored the IoT landscape in Africa and shared active deployments and chapter-led projects. The day also discussed IoT security and privacy considerations with emphasis on frameworks that could be implemented to ensure the security and safety of IoT devices. A dedicated session on aligning policy and IoT security needs shared the experience of the Senegal multistakeholder IoT security process and motivated member states to initiate a similar process in their countries.

The second day focused on localizing the AUC and Internet Society Personal Data Protection Guidelines. Our partners AUC, Omidyar Network, Mozilla Foundation, and UNECA unpacked issues related to digital identity, personal data protection and privacy in the region. The meeting explored the nature of policies in place to ensure Internet users in Africa are secure and discussed legal and institutional frameworks to promote online privacy of people in African countries, including data hosted in other jurisdictions. Among some of the outcomes of the workshop was a resolution to conduct a regional IoT situational analysis to help policymakers understand the state of IoT in the region. With regards privacy, AUC will continue to work with partners to motivate member states to sign the Malabo convention. The Personal Data Protection Guidelines will be used as the basis for privacy policymaking within countries. Our Internet Society Chapters will also rally and act as advocates to their countries to prioritize privacy and personal data protection issues.

The third and fourth days were dedicated to the 2019 African Chapters advocacy meeting, which brought together 30 fellows from 26 African Chapters and one global SIG. During the two days the Chapters’ representatives discussed the Internet Society’s 2019 initiatives, campaigns and projects (with dedicated sessions on Internet shutdowns, consolidation, and encryption), the 2025 strategy, 2020 action plan development, and how they can get involved and implement concrete, relevant activities at the local level. The meeting was also a great opportunity for capacity building, advocacy, and mobilization of Chapters in building and promoting trust in the Internet in Africa with a special focus on IoT security, privacy, and personal data protection.

 Read more about the 2019 African Chapters Advocacy Meeting.

Community Networks Growing the Internet

Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa a Success

Last week was an exceptionally exciting week for the African Regional Bureau as we successfully held, in partnership with the Association for Progressive Community (APC), the 3rd Summit on Community Networks in Africa from 2-7 September 2018, at Wild Lubanzi Trail Lodge, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The objective of the Summit was to promote the creation and growth of community networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in Africa and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders.

The event was attended by more than 100 participants from at least 18 countries worldwide, 13 from Africa (Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, DRC, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia) and 5 from Spain, Germany, Argentina, India, and the U.S. The formal opening of the Summit was addressed by representatives from the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa.

This year’s Summit turned out to be very special as 12 established community networks in Africa and 18 other communities (particularly from rural South Africa interested to replicate initiatives) attended and contributed to the discussions held throughout the 6 days.

The week started with 2 days of training, which provided community network operators with clear understandings of the technical elements which are required from accessing the Internet/broadband all the way to the end user as well as the technical elements which are required in order to access it on their own.

Day 3 and 4 were all about sharing real experiences, showcasing innovative technological approaches being used by community networks and in-depth discussions on how community networks are uniquely positioned in building wireless bridges to connect the unconnected in Africa. The community networks and participants also benefited from the discussions held around:

  • The strategies on how to bring more women into the community networks space
  • The current community networks financial and business models and opportunities that can support their sustainability
  • The creation of a conducive policy and regulation environment that encourage and support growth of community networks
  • The opportunities for community networks to collaborate with each other and build partnerships locally and internationally to promote collaboration

The last 2 days of the Summit were very special in terms of proving that community networks are all about the people. Everyone attending the Summit had the unforgettable opportunity of engaging with the Zenzeleni Network teams in the villages of Zithulele and Mankosihomes of the Zenzeleni Community. The site visits gave hands-on training experience for community networkers about the technical and practical set-up of community networks.

Last but not least, the commitment and excitement of the participants was rewarding. It is clear that we have a vibrant community in the making.

I can fully say that the Summit has been a great success in building a group of community networkers who will work together to connect the unconnected across Africa. I would like to thank all my colleagues who worked hard for the success: Michuki Mwangi, Marsema Tariku, Betel Hailu, and Jane Coffin, who were there but also those who worked remotely for the success of the Summit.

Our story, our community: It’s all here for you to see.

Help build a digital future that puts people first. #SwitchItOn

Photo ©Internet Society/Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

Promoting Digital Accessibility in Sri Lanka

Starting December 2015, the Internet Society Asia-Pacific (ISOC APAC) Bureau in collaboration with local stakeholders including government, industry and the civil society, has led a series of endeavours to help further digital accessibility in Pakistan.

Building on the success of our work in Pakistan, and in an effort to replicate the learnings in other parts of the Asia-Pacific, we recently held a workshop on digital accessibility in Colombo, Sri Lanka, hosted by the ISOC Sri Lanka chapter.

The workshop started off with a training and awareness session on accessibility standards and design principles. The session had Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) sharing their experiences and needs with website and mobile application developers. The moderator, Deshabandhu Manique Gunaratne, explained accessibility features and guidelines with some tips for the development of accessible websites and applications. She also explained some of the approaches to the redesign of the user interface for websites using Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 standards.

It came as no surprise that most of the developers present had no idea about accessibility features, or of some of the easy-to-implement actions when developing websites and general applications. Sharing the experience of users with visual, hearing and physical impairments, it was stressed that the optimal approach to promoting accessibility is by building it in during the design phase of websites, services and applications.

PWDs also mentioned the affordability of assistive technologies, cultural stigma issues, lack of digital literacy, unavailability of appropriate local language content and connectivity problems as some of the other barriers that limit them from better using the Internet and mobile technologies.

In the latter part of the workshop, various stakeholders, both from the public and private sector, engaged in a dialogue on digital accessibility policies, products and services in Sri Lanka. The Hon. Secretary, Ministry of Telecommunications & Digital Infrastructure, Government of Sri Lanka and Mr. Senarath Attanayake, Member of the Uva Provincial Council were among the session speakers.

During the discussions, it was highlighted that the Sri Lankan Government had issued a policy direction in 2010 to improve both accessibility and usability features of all government websites. However, the implementation of this policy has remained slow – largely because government webmasters are not aware of accessibility design principles.

Some of the other points raised by the PWDs ranged from adoption of standards by government for designing accessible websites and services; the accessibility of emergency services; support for relay services; access to local information about suitable communications products and services; the involvement of PWDs and their representative organisations in policy development processes; and establishing a coordinated monitoring and reporting framework related to the progress of digital accessibility in Sri Lanka.

The workshop concluded with a call for some immediate action, including implementing accessibility features in the top 10 government websites and developing a training program on web accessibility for government employees (especially developers/webmasters) with the support of the Ministry.

Some of the workshop moments are captured at

Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy Women in Tech

Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao. Leveling up Pakistani women.

Beyond the Net Journal: Pakistan Chapter #2 Episode

In the absence of any laws to tackle cyber harassment, Nighat Dad, digital rights advocate, created Hamara Internet (Our Internet), a pioneer project to raise the awareness of digital violence against women. The project, funded by Internet Society’s Beyond the Netis now completed and opened a new chapter in the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet is all about WOMEN and their right to use the Internet free from harassment. Under the slogan “Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao” (Use the Internet, Destroy Patriarchy), Hamara Internet provided women with skills to create safe online spaces and advocate for gender-inclusive Internet governance processes at a national level.

“The project has been successful in many ways.” says Nighad Dad “The main target of the campaign was to train about 300 students, but the program ended up training more than 460. Our efforts to involve women in large numbers were rewarded with an enthusiastic response. The more seminars we held the more we were asked by other colleges and universities to hold similar trainings in their institutes as well. The Internet Society mission had been introduced in every seminar we conducted by Mr. Faisal Shahzad, vice president of Pakistan Chapter. At the end of the campaign, the national conference we held in Islamabad attracted more than 100 young women from Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.”

Informative brochures about privacy and online safety have been created in both English and Urdu languages and distributed in the form of ten flip cards during seminars and conferences. The website was built to give legal and security advice, providing with the first digital harassment Crisis Center in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet success is providing key evidence that the Open Internet is an essential tool in facilitating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, leveraging collaboration and partnerships needed to make them a reality. This is how the project is relevant for the following SDG’s goals:

1. No Poverty
In Pakistan poverty has a “woman’s face”. Women’s lives are affected by economic deprivation. They have been deprived of adequate education and forced to live in the tight bind of the patriarchal tradition. Hamara Internet is teaching women to take control of their lives and to catch online opportunities to reduce poverty.

3. Good health and well-being
One Pakistani woman dies every 37 minutes from complications during childbirth indicating poor maternal healthcare in the country. Domestic violence is still a main cause of complications related to pregnancy. Women safe access to the Internet allows to find information for a healthier life and to discuss about reproductive issues and domestic violence.

4. Quality education
We are talking about a country that has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Where women are forced to just bear children and stay within their houses. Where separate schools for girls are not available in several regions. In this scenario, offering access to appropriate technology allows all female students to get in contact with a world of opportunities, opening up access to education and training in a very cost-effective way. Women empowered through education will be able to improve their own living conditions, as well as the conditions of their society.

5. Gender equality
Pakistan has been ranked the second worst country in the world for gender equality (first is Yemen). The gender gap is dramatically widening and today is larger than 10 years ago. Hamara Internet is spreading awareness about the imbalances between women’s and men’s access and participation in ICTs and is fighting to ensure that women equally share the benefits arising from the global digital economy.

8. Decent work and economic growth
The main factors contributing to poor employment trends include low literacy rates, social taboos and regulations preventing the active participation of women in the economic growth. They are forced into low-paid jobs where their abilities remain unused. The project showed women that the possibilities to improve their lives going online are endless. Some are starting to use the Internet to run their own business, others are using it to manage entire projects or to create presentations for their colleges.

10. Reduced inequalities
There is a growing evidence of multiple inequalities in Pakistan: race, gender, geography and economy. The project is aiming to increase the capacity building of women and set a new paradigm of Internet governance in Pakistan by engaging women in political discussions.

16. Peace, justice and strong istitutions
The annual report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded hundreds of rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, amputations and burnings. Almost 800 women attempted suicide in 2016. Women are frequently too afraid to report the crimes or are forced to withdrawing complaints. The project team is working with institutions to integrate Hamara Internet workshops and training manuals in the educational programmes of schools and colleges to make the next generations more secure and well-informed.

This pioneer project had become a women’s movement contributing to make a better world, a world of more compassion and equality. The key to a better future of Pakistan lies in giving priority to the development of human capabilities for which the Internet role can make a difference.

Watch the video to hear from a cyber harassment victim

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post and follow our stories on Twitter

Share this story
If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project
We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Find out more about the programme

Read more:

Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy Reports Women in Tech

My personal highlights of 2016 for the Asia-Pacific Bureau and what’s coming up in 2017

The year 2016 was indeed a successful year for the Internet Society (ISOC) Asia-Pacific (APAC) Team. We were able to leverage many opportunities throughout the year across the region, and together with our members, chapters and partners, we worked towards ensuring that the Internet kept growing and evolving.

For me personally, there were a couple of things that stood out. One was InterCommunity 2016 where we had 11 nodes located throughout the region engaged in robust intra-regional discussions on topical issues.

Another was ISOC’s first Regional Internet and Development Dialogue that brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss Internet development issues. At the event, we were able to bring the gender perspective into discussions, and the regional gender and ICT workshop we convened just prior was a valuable initiative that helped shape some of the outcomes.

In November, Kathy and I had the opportunity to visit one of the Wireless for Communities (W4C) sites in Tilonia, India. We observed first-hand the transformative nature of the Internet and what it can do for people at the local community level. The visit was a very fulfilling experience that left us even more committed to connect the unconnected.

So here we are, well into 2017, and its certainly shaping up to be a busy year regionally and globally.

On the policy front, we have WTDC scheduled in Argentina in Q4 that will consider a range of development-related issues as they apply to Telecom/ICTs and the Internet. Linked to that will be a number of regional preparatory meetings that we will be closely following in APAC. The first of these took place in Papua New Guinea in February, and the ITU Regional Preparatory Meeting was held in Bali late last month.

Also in Q4, India will host the next edition of the Global Conference on Cyberspace. The Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF) will be held in Bangkok in July, and there will be a sprinkling of regional inter-governmental meetings throughout the year organised by APT and others covering cybersecurity, access, development and ICT-related issues.

On the technical front, APRICOT was held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam in late February, and we are happy to have again supported its fellowship programme. This year we further reinforced our focus on gender, with two-thirds of ISOC fellows at the event being women from developing countries. You can read more about our activities in and around APRICOT in this blog post.

In November, Singapore will host the 100th meeting of the IETF, and we hope that can be further encouragement for participation from Southeast Asia in the IETF. Our IETF Outreach initiative in 2016 was focused on Southeast Asia, and this year we are focusing on South Asia with the programme already underway in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Towards the end of 2016, we added a new team member in APAC focused on technical engagement – Aftab Siddiqui. He will be working on deepening our engagement with the regional technical community. In March, we held a very useful bilateral meeting with APNIC so that we can better coordinate and collaborate on technical activities in the region.

In line with ISOC’s 2017 Action Plan, our regional programmes this year will focus on Trust- and Access-related issues that enable economic, social and human development. The year 2017 is also our 25th anniversary, and we intend to highlight this milestone throughout the year. You can read more about some of the planned activities here.

The fourth edition of our regional policy survey, which will close today, has thus far elicited close to 2,100 responses from participants in 39 economies across the region. Please consider responding to that and share your views on regional Internet issues. You can read the findings from the 2016 survey here and participate in the 2017 survey here.

We are looking at convening a series of workshops on online privacy issues and how that impacts on trust and confidence in the Internet; as well as a couple on digital accessibility following our work in Pakistan on the topic in 2016. The first accessibility workshop was held in Sri Lanka last month, and the first privacy workshop is scheduled for Vanuatu in May.

We also expect to organise a couple of editions of our highly regarded Asia Internet Symposium series that have helped provide a forum to discuss Internet issues of local importance.

InterCommunity 2017 is scheduled for the 19th of September, and will include the presentation of a new class of Internet Hall of Fame inductees and the 25 under 25 who are using the Internet to make a significant impact on society. We hope you can be part of one of our regional nodes – or join us online – as we celebrate 25 years of the Internet Society.

We are also pleased to present our ‘2016: The Year That Was Report‘ that provides a snapshot of what we did over the course of 2016. The report includes some activities as reported by our chapters in the region.

To keep up-to-date with where we are and what we are doing throughout the year, please follow us on Twitter @ISOCapac, connect with us on Facebook and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Internet of Things (IoT)

A drone project to change humanitarian disaster response in Philippines.

Philippines is the 4th most disaster-prone country in the world. When a natural disasters hits we are completely wiped out. In remote and rural parts of the Philippines, telecommunications networks can be spotty most of the times. This scenario is willing to change thanks to the Internet Society’s Philippines Chapter new project supported by Beyond the Net Funding Programme.

The aim of the project is to send UAVs — or what most of us call drones — in disaster zones to act as wireless relays and data aggregators. The drones would set up a local MESH network to help people to get in touch with the loved ones. It would also help emergency workers to work safely and talk to one another. The project will also make possible that the drones will be able to work with Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to find information about the situation on the ground.

In the recent years, interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has been evidenced by innovations in this emerging field. Hobbyists and scientists alike have leveled up the use of UAVs in many ways such as forestry surveys, remote sensing and disaster management. While much of the focus of drones to date has been on military applications and as toys, the future of drones as humanitarian tools is getting more promising by the day. Commercial industries view drones as the new logistics support mechanism for parcel delivery, they are also used by environmental bureaus for tracking river flow changes.

In a country prone to disasters like the Philippines, researchers saw the opportunity to implement drones in the field of disaster management. Over the years, the Ateneo de Manila University Innovation Center has been developing use cases for drone technology, mostly for mission-critical scenarios as decision-support platform. Dr. Nathaniel Joseph Libatique, a professor at Manila University said: “We can all do optimization on battery life, rotor design, and frame aerodynamics, but at the core of engineering for humanity is the UAV’s payload – this niche is a breeding space for innovation. Say for example, we can do a fly-by and detect victims in a collapsed building, or do cooperative flights with ground teams – we can cover the breadth of a situation while scaling up value-added systems such as location detection, risk profiling, and even internet connectivity!”

Using hybrid communications technologies and devices – Push-To-Talk (PTT) Radio, Android-based protocols, Raspberry Pi hubs, 915 MHz and 760 MHz transceivers and delay tolerant communications standards (RFC 5050) – the project team continues to demonstrate how critical information such as victim or survivor identities and needs can be robustly transmitted to command and control using bump communications, aggregation and store and forward techniques. Information analysis such as facial recognition and pre-stored information of survivor social networks, especially for the elderly and PWDs, enable an efficient and targeted response.

Flying over the municipality of San Juan, Batangas, a province 140 kilometers south of Metro Manila, the team did a series of experiments that demonstrated the role of UAVs integrating connectivity, highlighting cooperation and underscoring collaboration. In a disaster situation, responders use various radio communication media and this presents an opportunity to interface drones with these devices. Systems incorporating ground vehicles and UAVs provide the breadth and scale necessary to respond to disasters and undertake victim rescue apart from purely imagery missions. In this series of tests, the team did propagation measurements between “victims” and drones functioning as rescuer/alert vehicle. The UAV was flown above the antenna setup subject to the applicable civil aviation rules, utilizing the frequency (760 MHz) as approved for experimental use by the telecommunications regulator. Initial results reveal the potential of UAVs to complement ground teams in the performance of victim rescue support.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

How to apply Beyond the Net

Find out more about the programme 

Growing the Internet

Digital India Threatened by Internet Shutdowns

The government of Narendra Modi has set out ambitious goals for the digitalization of India, through a program called Digital India. It is hard to see this program get fully realized when state or local governments keep turning the Internet off.

Since January 2016, we have tracked that state governments have switched off the Net more than 34 times across India.

Sixty-two incidents of Internet shutdowns across 12 Indian states have been recorded by from 2012 till date.

In the country’s northeast, in Nagaland, there was no Internet service at all from January 30 until February 19 .2017

In Kashmir, there have been 27 shutdowns since 2012, in a region market by long-standing conflicts.

International attention and discourse on this issue have barely touched upon the paradox between these shutdowns and the move of an entire democratic country towards a connected economy, with the vision of delivering an essential services to a digital world.

In a contemporary economy, shutting down Internet service is like closing all the roads and shutting down all the banks at once.

The demonetization effort by the GoI undertaken in November 2016 is speeding adoption of universal payment systems, digital wallets, etc. that rely on the Internet and always-on connectivity. When tens of millions of customers are suddenly deprived of connectivity, an artificial economic disaster is imposed on large swaths of the population. In a report issued by the Brookings Institute in 2016, it was estimated that Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year. India topped this list having lost $968 million owing to frequent shutdowns.

We need more and better data to measure these shutdowns and their impact.

Already, as my organization has documented in its automated web-based tracker of Internet shutdowns in India,, shutdowns in one region of the country are rapidly reflected in human suffering elsewhere. Students in Delhi cannot receive remittances from their parents in Kashmir, and the result is hunger. Workers caught in areas of shutdown cannot message their employers to explain their absence from work, and might lose their jobs. Surgeons cannot access patient information before surgery and have to devise innovative ways to do their jobs.

Our tracker has freely available code under free software and free culture license, to make it easy for organizations around the world to build upon our work and use it to reflect shutdowns in their regions. stands strong with the message that the Internet is essential for the holistic socio-economic and cultural development of the country. The Indian economy and society cannot afford the use of Internet “kill switches” across Indian States. If we are to have the promise of digital empowerment though Digital India, shutdowns cannot become the new “normal”.

Building Trust Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) Events IPv6 Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) Open Internet Standards

One week in Ho Chi Minh City – another busy APRICOT for the ISOC Team

If we had to choose music to accompany all our activities at APRICOT 2017 it would surely be Chopin’s Minute Waltz (Op 64, No 1)! No, we did not manage to fit 138 bars of music into 60 seconds but the tempo was very lively with frequent crescendos and diminuendos and a lengthy trill. Call it efficiency, but we all managed to share and exchange a lot of information working within the new shortened APRICOT 2017/APNIC 43 programme.   

Employing good strategic planning, the ISOC Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau’s activities preceded our arrival into Saigon (the former name for Ho Chi Minh City). We had sponsored nine ISOC Technical Fellows to attend the workshop week in-line with our mission to support capacity building in developing countries. The workshop week allowed network engineers not only to keep up-to-date with current and emerging trends in network operations (including network management and security), but gave them the opportunity to exchange knowledge with their peers from the region, and to take and make use of the learnings back home.

This year the Internet Society sponsored a total of 12 fellows to APRICOT 2017. The fellows were split between the technical workshops and the conference week, depending on their areas of interest.

We are also happy to note that 70% of these fellows were females – coming from Vanuatu, Fiji, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and, Bhutan. Encouraging and facilitating the participation of female fellows at such technical events is one way in which we are trying to help bridge the gender gap in the technology sector.

The Internet Society had a sizeable presence overall at APRICOT 2017, with staff from various teams including the Regional Bureau, Internet Technology and Partnership Development. This included Aftab Siddiqui, Amelia Yeo, Andrei Robachevsky, Howie Baggott, Jan Zorz, Kevin Meynell, Rajnesh Singh and Raul Echeberria.

The Team took on a wide variety of roles at APRICOT 2017/APNIC 43 and other co-located events. These included:

1. Chairing (Raj) and Speaking (Amelia) in the AP *meeting

2. Speaking in the APNIC Cooperation SIG on Connecting the Next Billion (Raul)

3. Facilitating the BOF on Best Current Operational Practices (Jan and Aftab)

4. Moderating the APNIC Panel on Forces Shaping the Network (Raul)

5. Speaking in the DNS/DNSSEC session on DNSSEC/DANE/TLS Testing in Go6Lab (Jan)

6. Moderating (Raj) and speaking (Raul) at the BOF on Community Wireless Networks

7. Speaking in the APNIC Panel on Navigating the IPv4 Transfer Market (Aftab)

8. Speaking in the APNIC Global Reports on ISOC Updates (Raj 

9. Speaking in the Network Security session on two years of good MANRS (Andrei)

10. Organising/Speaking the ISOC@APRICOT session (Amelia, Raul, Aftab, Raj and Gihan Dias from the ISOC Board of Trustees)

11. Speaking at APTLD71 on ISOC updates (Raul)

12.Speaking in the IPv6 session on Deployment on NAT64/DNS64 experiments, warnings and one useful tool (Jan)

13. Serving as the Election Chair of the 2017 APNIC Executive Council Election (Jan)

Of note are some of Jan’s technical presentations which are hyperlinked here and include DNS/DNSSEC,  NAT64 and IPv6.  Jan was so inspired that he had specially tailored his presentations for Vietnam (including being dressed for the occasion in Asian attire!).      

In addition, we took the opportunity to engage with stakeholders present at APRICOT 2017 and had a number of bilaterals and side meetings. This included government representatives, network operators, vendors, academia, and Internet Hall of Fame inductees (Geoff Huston, Gihan Dias, Kanchana Kanchanasut, Randy Bush, Steve Huter).

In a nod to fostering the next generation of Internet leaders, we had Md. Abdul Awal from our Bangladesh Dhaka Chapter chair the ISOC@APRICOT meeting. He did a good job, and we look forward to seeing more of our younger members taking the lead in future meetings.

All in all, the ISOC Team had great visibility and impact during APRICOT 2017 and there are a number of outcomes and collaboration opportunities that we will be following up on in the coming weeks and months

APRICOT 2018 will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from February 19th to March 1st.

Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Technology

How the IETF community is shaping technology to build a better society

The continued advancement in technological landscape enabling more people having Internet access in the global arena has meant that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) remains at the forefront of integrating technology with humanity. In fact, IETF has made significant use of social dimension to articulate its area of work and research. It is beautifully reflected in section 4.1 of the RFC 3935 wherein it states that “We want the Internet to be useful for communities that share our commitment to openness and fairness.  We embrace technical concepts such as decentralized control, edge-user empowerment and sharing of resources, because those concepts resonate with the core values of the IETF community”. This focus of inclusion remains at forefront of integration of IETF with human dimension of technology. The standards created in IETF are testimony to technical developments and enables innovation by providing a platform for the innovation and interoperability.

Indian IETF Capacity Building (IICB) Program Phase II has received Beyond the Net Support from Internet Society and focuses on creating technical capacity development for increased participation and contribution of technical standards on Internet from India. The program aligns itself with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such of economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The IICB program was conceived as a traditional program which is hierarchical in nature, meaning it has fixed KPIs rolling up-to objectives and further upward roll up to mission and vision. However, in reality, the program has taken a shift and has focused on creating communities as well which decides their own course of action. This was a marked shift as it required adjustments in the delivery of the program and larger emphasis on adoption. As individuals are important in IETF process, it asked from the program implementers to develop a greater understanding of the role of individual who is going to contribute in the IETF process, the collective beliefs one possesses, the world views on standards and standardization, the priorities of making a contribution as well as loyalties as time has to be taken out from different parts of day, personal and professional space for inching into this community.

Hence, the awareness sessions being carried out in the program focused on human concerns in the technical standard development process in IETF like. The workshops focused on societal benefits of collaborative work happening in IETF and remote participation was not hearing the speakers over Internet, but was a presence across the seas and directly learning from the activities therein.

A significant milestone for IICB program was in late 2016 when a community of technical researchers and academicians based out of 150 KMs from main city of Kolkata, at a place called Mallabhum wherein we had done our awareness sessions and workshops, proposed us their own plans of execution and the task at hand was now just to enable them. Since then they are moving out to do IETF awareness sessions, remotely logging on to IETF sessions, have created smaller sub groups to focus on specific areas of technology and following the debate in IETF mailing lists. Emboldened, one of the key movers is working to get his visa for his first physical participation in IETF in Chicago.

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Community Projects Domain Name System (DNS) Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) Improving Technical Security IPv6

An eventful week at SANOG 29

After a long wait of 4.5 years, the 29th edition of SANOG came back to Pakistan, this time in the countrys capital, Islamabad. The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) and the Higher Education commission of Pakistan (HEC) came forward to jointly host the event at the HEC headquarters.

SANOG 29 consisted of two days of conference, one day of tutorial alongside the Internet Society’s ION Conference, and the usual five days of workshops with three parallel tracks. Eight days of action-packed agenda was good enough to attract a lot of audiences.

The ION Conference was inaugurated by chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed and PTA chairman Dr. Ismail Shah, with two keynotes from distinguished industry experts: Mr. Yousuf Bhaiji discussed the “Future of Networks, Networking, and Networkers” and Mr. Haris Shamsi shared his views on “Software Defined Everything”.

The opening ceremony was well-attended by many network professionals and academia delegates from all over Pakistan. There was good media presence as well. A number of foreign delegates participated in the event, representing Facebook, Google, Internet Society, NL-IX, DE-CIX, IIJ, APNIC, NSRC, University of Tokyo and ICANN, making it one of the most successful SANOGs in Pakistan after the first SANOG in 2006.

PKNOG was inaugurated during the conference day, with a dedicated plenary session to announce its establishment. It took a very long time for the Pakistani technical community to create their own NOG where they can discuss and share technical knowledge with each other. Tentatively, the standalone first PKNOG event will be organised in the third quarter this year.

An issue that was underlined throughout the conference and tutorial was the dire state of IPv6 deployment in Pakistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan is lacking in this arena, with IPv6 traffic at less than 1% of the total internet traffic as per measurements by APNIC. But recently there has been a great deal of interest and enthusiasm in the community towards IPv6 deployment and hopefully, this will increase in the coming months.

Another great news was announced during SANOG: the establishment of PKIX (Pakistan Internet Exchange) in Islamabad. It was formally inaugurated by the Minister of IT and Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rehman. PTA, ISOC and APNIC played a vital role in setting up PKIX. Discussions are underway to establish other nodes in Karachi and Lahore. ISOC and PTA are also engaging with stakeholders on how this process may be streamlined.

After the conference and tutorial there were five days of hands-on workshops which were conducted by foreign delegates on following topics:

Dr. Philip Smith (NSRC) and Dr. Nimal (NSRC) – Campus Design and Security

Champika Wijayatunga (ICANN) and Dr. Rao Naveed – DNS and DNSSEC Deployment

Aftab Siddiqui (ISOC) and Matsuzaki Yoshinobo (IIJ) – IPv4/v6 routing

The closing ceremony was held on the last day of the workshop, with the Minister of Education as the chief guest. Certificates were distributed to participants and shields given to the instructors and organizers. It was a very successful event that will hopefully jumpstart a PKNOG meeting in the near future.

Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

Promoting digital accessibility: For persons with disabilities, with persons with disabilities

The United Nations estimates that one in six people (in Asia and the Pacific) live with disability – that is a total of 650 million people. Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) often face barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis, including the access to, and use of, information and communication technologies (ICTs). These barriers include none or very little attention to incorporating accessibility features for online content (including websites), limited adaptability in the functionality of products and services, and weak policy frameworks to support the provision of an accessible digital environment.

Over the last 15 or so months, the Internet Society Asia-Pacific Bureau in collaboration with local stakeholders including government, industry and civil society, led a series of endeavours to help embrace digital accessibility in Pakistan – a country with approximately 30 million PWDs.

These efforts started with a small workshop organized in December 2015, inviting PWDs to inform and educate us on their accessibility requirements, and the challenges they face while using the Internet and online services in Pakistan. In this workshop, PWDs served as our speakers and panellists, providing a unique opportunity for us to join forces in removing barriers to digital accessibility. This effort identified several keys issues, which were broadly characterised as:

  • Improving accessibility to local websites
  • Introducing policy measures
  • Educating developers and students
  • Developing mobile applications for PWDs

To work on these goals, an informal working group on ICT Accessibility was created which included representatives from several organizations working with PWDs – Special Talent Exchange Program, Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness and Pakistan Youth Federation of Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The group then met with the Ministry of IT and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, seeking their cooperation in promoting accessibility at both the policy and practical level. With the active support of these government entities, we first helped make their own websites accessible, and then devised an incremental approach to implement accessibility standards and guidelines for all government websites.

The group was also successful in introducing (for the first time), a separate section on accessibility, usability and promoting digital inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, in the draft IT Policy of Pakistan – this will help to achieve broader digital accessibility goals in the country.

We also helped launch the Pakistan Mobile App Awards 2016 competition, which focused on mobile applications that address the needs of PWDs, and can help them be more independent in their daily lives. The group likewise secured local funding to organize ‘awareness workshops on ICT mobile accessibility’ in all major cities of Pakistan, targeting developers and students.

It was not a big surprise to hear from the developer community that they were not familiar with guidelines and practices that would make their products accessible – in the case of PWDs, they are not able to view the process from a user perspective. This was then seen as an opportunity to bridge the gap, and the workshops did much to help in this regard. It also drove home the point that it is important to inform and educate developers (mobile applications, websites, etc.) to implement accessibility support as an essential part of their design, so all potential users (and hence customers) have equal access to their products.

Last week, winners of the Pakistan Mobile App Awards 2016 were announced in a ceremony graced by the President of Pakistan.

Interested to know more about the winning applications? Please watch this video (with English subtitles).

Walking this digital accessibility journey for Persons with Disabilities – with Persons with Disabilities – in Pakistan was truly inspirational. It also made us realise how important digital accessibility is – and more importantly how the Internet and ICTs can help better the lives of PWDs.

It is estimated that the Asia-Pacific region has 650 million people with disabilities – and they are likely to be part of the last billion to be connected. We hope that our digital accessibility work in Pakistan can serve as a model for a multi-stakeholder community-driven initiative that can help make a change.

To know more about the working group on ICT accessibility in Pakistan, please watch this video.