Community Networks Growing the Internet

Indigenous Connectivity Summit Policy Recommendations: Helping Policymakers Make Inclusive Decisions

As billions of us move into self-isolation, one thing is crystal clear: Internet access is critical. If anyone of us took it for granted before, COVID-19 has changed everything and rocketed the world into a new era. So it’s even more critical we build an Internet for everyone.

But we’ll only get there if we bring more diversity to the table when it comes to building infrastructure, developing sound policy, and creating the communities needed.

A lot of our work involves bringing people together. Network operators, policymakers, advocates, community members, and more. That’s because the Internet is built by people, and new ways to bring infrastructure to the world only come from what can happen when people come together.

In 2019, the Internet Society held the third annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) in Hilo, Hawai’i.

Among the delegates were five Indigenous advocates from across North America who trained to become 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit Policy Advisors.

Based on conversation and outcomes from the Summit, they developed a set of recommendations to help policymakers in the United States and Canada make more inclusive decisions. These recommendations build on those developed at the previous Summits in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

These recommendations were then discussed and agreed on by everyone at the 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit. Collaboration at its best.

We would like your help on getting them out. Please help make your local policymakers aware they’re out there. Share them on social media, raise them in meetings, include them in reports, and more:

2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit Policy Recommendations

You can also find the full report from the 2019 Summit here, detailing the sessions and conversations held over the two-day event.

Group photo of the Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo Internet Society training session on Oahu © Elyse Butler

Community Networks Growing the Internet

Minister Bains, Let’s Rethink Canada’s Spectrum Auction

Yesterday’s announcement by the Government of Canada to drive down cell phone prices will only end up costing Canada in the long run.

In a press conference held yesterday, Minister Navdeep Bains of Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) laid out a plan that will not only allow the government to evoke further regulation to boost competition but allow it to sell off spectrum to the highest bidder.

It is a case of short-term gain that will lead to long-term pain.

It could have been an opportunity for ISED to bring many Canadians – particularly those living in rural and remote areas – closer to the government’s goal of universal broadband for all by 2030. Unfortunately, we believe that the auction rules announced yesterday by Minister Bains for this spectrum band are a step backward for innovative approaches to bring affordable access to the regions of Canada that most need it.

Currently, Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world to come online and much of the country still does not have fiber needed for broadband.

There are solutions to affordable access in Canada. One of which is community networks.

The Internet Society has long championed community networks as a solution to address the connectivity gaps around the world. These networks – communications infrastructure built, managed, and used by local communities – could be an ideal solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in many parts of Canada, where typical solutions do not exist.

And that’s where spectrum comes in.

Access to spectrum is an integral step in supporting the development of community networks. With the 3500 MHz auction, ISED had an opportunity to enable communities deploy their own sustainable and affordable networks. Unfortunately, that opportunity is lost with the auction rules.

Canada could have followed the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) approach to the 3500MHz band. In 2015, the FCC adopted rules to convert it to a shared band called Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). Anyone can use CBRS for free where the owner is not currently transmitting. Canada is a large country, with vast regions to cover. A shared model, like the one the FCC adopted, would have gone a long way for rural areas where large service providers may have spectrum but are not using it.

The FCC also took an innovative approach in how it is repurposing Education Broadband Spectrum (EBS). While EBS was originally set aside for educational purposes, the FCC eventually opened it up to broadband service. Last year, an auction was announced to reallocate EBS and issue new licenses. Notably, the FCC created a Tribal Priority Window to allow Tribal Nations to receive licenses for unassigned spectrum on their lands. The FCC’s Priority Window is open until August 2, 2020, at which point the auction will be open to all potential licensees. For tribes, this Window represents the potential to achieve Internet access on their own terms.

Either one of these examples from the FCC would have ensured progress towards the government’s goal of ensuring universal broadband for all Canadians. A window for Indigenous communities to access 3500 MHz, like the FCC’s window for EBS, would have meant that rural and remote communities could have deployed their own local networks, providing access to all of the opportunities the Internet delivers.

While the clock is ticking, there is still time to change this.

We are stronger together than we are apart. As one of the oldest and independent technical organizations with local people on the ground, the Internet Society has a long history of working with partners to lay a foundation for sustainable, locally developed solutions.

We are asking Minister Bains to evolve his plan. We are here to help.

Government, technical experts, policy advisors, and people who care about their neighbors. That’s what brings the world online and brings opportunity. Let’s work together on this, and collaborate for change.

Image © Angela Gzowski

Community Networks Growing the Internet

Beyond the Palm Trees: Local Action Key to Fast, Affordable and Reliable Internet Solutions in Rural Hawai’i

To many North Americans, Hawai’i is a place of beaches, resorts, surfing, rainforests, and volcanoes — it’s a vacation destination.

But despite its tourism infrastructure and economy, Native Hawaiian communities in the far-flung chain of more than 130 islands face many of the same Internet connectivity challenges as Indigenous communities in Canada and the continental United States. And for a variety of economic, policy and geographic reasons, it is often excluded from efforts to improve access for Indigenous, rural and remote communities.

The Internet Society believes the Internet is for everyone and works with underserved communities to find and create local access solutions in some of the hardest-to-reach places on earth. What’s exciting is that despite the different geographic landscapes, the same community-led solution underway to improve Internet access in the high Arctic could also help Native Hawaiians carve their own path to better connectivity.

That’s why, in 2019, the Internet Society is holding its third annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) in Hawai’i.

Including Indigenous voices in the planning and solutions that shape the Internet is a vital part of closing the digital divide. Previous summits in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2017, and Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada, last year highlighted critical perspectives on connectivity in Indigenous communities. One thing that always stands out is that while these locations may seem very different, people in each place are tackling many of the same issues.

Areas of low population density lack the number of potential users necessary to lure large telecommunications companies to invest in expensive infrastructure, and funding opportunities often exclude Indigenous communities.

This problem is compounded in Hawai’i, where the roughly 300,000 Native Hawaiians lack the legal status of Indigenous people on the continental United States. But like their Indigenous counterparts in the Arctic and in the deserts of the American southwest, Native Hawaiians face poorer health and educational outcomes, more loss of culture and language, and lower incomes than other Hawaiians. And, like those in Canada and the continental United States, they have less access to high-speed, affordable Internet, especially those living outside major cities like Honolulu.

As Colin Kippen of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement recently described it, Internet connectivity is a powerful tool for self-determination. Access is vital to participate fully in the world: in educational pursuits, economic activities, social interaction, even access to fundamentals like medical care. It is particularly important for Indigenous communities, as it plays an important role in revitalizing cultures and languages driven to near-extinction by colonialism. It brings people together, allowing Elders to share knowledge, language to be preserved, stories to be told. 

The Internet has shown us time and again that we can achieve great things when we work together. When it comes to closing the digital divide, we have to approach solutions in the same collaborative way. The 2019 Summit welcomes everyone who plays a role in bringing Internet access to Indigenous communities: Indigenous leaders, community members, network operators, service providers, researchers and policy makers.

The event will give participants a better understanding of the connectivity challenges faced by Indigenous communities in all parts of North America, as well as an opportunity to share successes and find solutions to bring home to their own communities.

Native Hawaiians are already leading the way to establishing better connectivity. In addition to leading innovative local programs, several participants have registered for the Internet Society’s community network training program that will teach them how to build their own Internet access solution. We can all learn from their successes and do something to support faster, more affordable and reliable connectivity solutions for those who need it most.

Register for the 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit today!

Want to take your participation a step further? Learn about our sponsorship opportunities.

Building Trust Internet of Things (IoT)

Your Voice Matters: The World Can Learn from Canada’s Inclusive Solutions to Make Citizens Safer Online

Canada has shown great leadership in its innovative approach to secure our connected future by drawing on the diverse strengths, backgrounds, and perspectives our country has to offer.

While the wrap up of a collaborative effort to produce policy recommendations to keep us safe online is definitely worth celebrating, the real work for Canadians has just begun.

The Internet has profoundly changed the way we do things, expanding opportunity as it shrinks distances between people, cultures, and ideas. With connected devices hitting the shelves of major Canadian retailers like never before, the Internet of Things (IoT) is adding countless facets to a new era of human potential.

It has also brought new and complex challenges in areas such as privacy and security.

Many of us worry about our security when we log on. Despite recent calls by governments around the world to create regulation to keep citizens and information safe online, it is critical to consider that not one person or government can solve these issues alone.

If there’s anything the world of Internet governance has shown us, it’s that we get better answers to tough questions when a range of experts and interests can meaningfully take part in the conversation.

When it comes to IoT security, Canada nailed it. It met this challenge with a collaborative project that drew on the expertise of diverse people and organizations. Known as the Canadian Multistakeholder Process: Enhancing IoT Security, the group included civil society, technology companies, academics, and developers. All worked in partnership with agencies such as the Canadian Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, CANARIE, and CIPPIC.

Participants established three working groups that focused on consumer education and awareness, network resiliency, and the potential for a trustmark. The recommendations of each group are included in the final report released May 28.

The project’s recommendations carry serious weight in terms of credibility because they include perspectives from people who don’t always get a seat at the decision-making table.

For instance, youth delegates brought invaluable ideas about the potential future challenges of IoT from people who grew up in a world where the Internet has always existed. Likewise, participants of the 2018 Indigenous Connectivity Summit helped us understand the unique IoT access and security challenges of people without fast, reliable, and affordable Internet.

What’s more, other countries are already looking towards Canada’s collaborative model as a best practice to secure IoT. The Canadian Multistakeholder Process was the linchpin to the IoT Security Policy Platform, a collaborative body of government agencies and global organizations championing inclusive solutions to make security a pillar of our digital future. Senegal and France are also taking this way of working forward.

There isn’t a single person out there who can build a secure Internet by themselves. Solutions that are going to last need all of us. While the Canadian report represents a new way of meeting the potential and challenges of the Internet, it is only the starting point.

What’s next? We need your help to make things happen.

Now that the recommendations are in place, Canada needs to make them happen. That’s where you come in.

A new working group is already formed with the mandate to carry these recommendations forward. You can be a part of it.

The more the merrier: whether you’re an active community leader, policy maker, business leader, or concerned citizen, you can join group of changemakers working to secure our connected future through the IoT Security Implementation Committee. If you are interested, contact Senior Policy Advisor Katie Jordan at

Inclusivity is part of the Internet’s own DNA. It is an open and global network of networks that voluntarily work together.  Each network that joins the Internet does its own thing, but together they are all richer and more reliable.  It’s stronger because it works that way. We are too, and your voice is critical to the equation.

Join the IoT Security Implementation Committee and help ensure a secure, open, and accessible Internet for the future.

About Internet Society Building Trust Community Networks Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Internet of Things (IoT) Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) Public Policy Security Shaping the Internet's Future

Working Together the Internet Way to Build Success in North America

One of the most common lines you’ll hear in the virtual halls of the Internet Society is that the Internet’s success is due to its open, distributed, and global nature.

Think about it. A network of voluntarily-connected networks changed the course of history in a matter of decades because people agreed to work and innovate together. It’s a deeply profound source of inspiration about the power of humankind.

It practically begs the question: can we replicate even a portion of its success by embodying the “the Internet way” of working in North America?

The answer is yes.

As part of this, one thing is strikingly clear. Chapters and partners are the lifeblood of the organization. They are critical to working more closely with communities at the front lines of our work.

The Internet’s own globally-operable infrastructure proves the infinite potential of what can happen when people work together. In the same way, we will come together as a diverse community to help define future priorities.

We’ve already seen successes in the North American region that show how closer collaboration with Chapters and partners can help us reach new levels of success.

Enhancing IoT Security

Canada is changing how countries around the world think about securing our connected future.  Last year, the Internet Society launched and led the Canadian Multistakeholder Process oversight committee to secure Internet of Things (IoT) in Canada.

Throughout this project, the Canadian chapter helped plan meetings and enlist a dedicated group of partners, stakeholders, and youth participants to develop recommendations for an IoT policy to ensure security is ingrained in Canadian innovation. The Quebec chapter also organized a focus group on IoT during an Internet Engineering Task Force meeting in Montreal last year.  Even our U.S. Chapters and organization members are supporting the cause. For instance, the Internet Society’s New York Chapter hosted a session on how to make trustworthy IoT last October.

Thanks to this collaboration, countries and policymakers around the world are being inspired by our work. While the final recommendations aren’t expected until April 2019 (Canadians can comment on the draft here), we’re already helping countries like Senegal, France, and others to adopt similar regulatory approaches to build a future we can trust.

Indigenous Connectivity

Connecting the world is critical and we won’t rest until everyone who wants to be connected has the option to do so. Thanks to a dedicated group of individuals, communities, and local Chapters like New Mexico, we’ve made great headway to inspire solutions to close the digital divide in Indigenous communities throughout North America.

We’ve already held two successful Indigenous Connectivity Summits (ICS) to explore the potential of community networks to empower communities to connect to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet on their own terms. The ICS has also inspired plans to create a new Chapter focused on Indigenous connectivity.

You can read about last year’s event held in Canada’s Artic community of Inuvik, NT in Empowerment Through Connectivity.  We’re already looking forward to the third Summit in Hawaii this November, and not just for the change in weather. Stay tuned here for more details on ICS!

Promoting a Healthy Internet for Everyone

When it comes to advocacy, we have a lot of ground to cover as a global organization. There is a wide range of issues critical to ensuring an open Internet for all, and Chapters and partners are crucial to speaking with a stronger regional voice.

Just last month, Konstantinos Komaitis led a speaking series on regulation in the United States and Canada to bring attention to our Chatham House call for papers on consolidation. Thanks to help of the Washington DC and Canada Chapters to organize these events, our “regulation on the road” tour brought attention to the unintended consequences of regulation in key newsworthy moments, such as securing Canada’s federal election.

One of the successes that inspired our collaborative efforts was supporting DC Chapter Executive Director Dustin Phillips’ Internet community road trip last year. His collaboration with the San Franscisco-Bay Area chapter and other partners to promote the importance of getting involved in Internet Governance helped bring some powerful doers and shakers to the ecosystem.

This year, we’ll be advocating for security standards like MANRS. We’ll also continue to collaborate on even more events, educational resources, and webinars to amplify what we do, why it matters, and how it’s important to the future of the Internet.

Moving Forward Together

When it comes to making a difference, the Internet has already taught us that we’re stronger together than we are apart.

By integrating “the Internet way” of working with Chapters and partners based on our shared goals and values, the Internet Society can take greater strides to making the Internet a better and more inclusive place for everyone.

Based on our early successes, we’re more confident than ever that collaboration will take us to new levels of success.

Building Trust Internet of Things (IoT)

Seeking Canadian Feedback: Draft Report on Securing the Internet of Things in Canada

Trying to remove cyber security risks from the growing world of connected things is not an easy task. That said, there’s no time like World Consumer Rights Day to give Canada a shout out for its global leadership to champion a safer digital future for all.

Recognizing the need to secure the Internet of Things (IoT), the Internet Society, in partnership with the Ministry of Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED), the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), and CANARIE, led a voluntary multistakeholder process to develop a broad-reaching policy to ingrain security at the core of innovation in Canada.

Over the past year, we led a series of meetings with business leaders, technical experts, government representatives, civil society, and academia to discuss challenges and recommend the best ways to address them. We gathered feedback through in-person and online attendance. Collectively, these efforts, combined with well-rounded research and documentation, formed the Canadian Multistakeholder Process for Enhancing IoT Security.

Rather than a top-down, government-imposed regulatory model, our multistakeholder approach helped us balance roles and contributions among the group. By working in a way that includes feedback from all participants, we are developing IoT security frameworks that will be more resilient and flexible as technology evolves. IoT security is complex, and this bottom-up, organic process will help us develop a solid yet flexible strategy to address existing and potential challenges and issues. As a result, the approach continues to be fluid in nature, and is being defined and refined through discussion with stakeholders.

As a result of this process, I am pleased to announce the recent release of the multistakeholder group’s draft report on securing the Internet of Things, which is now open for comment.

To tackle the key issues surrounding IoT security, the Canadian Multistakeholder Process formed three sub-groups, including the Network Resiliency Working Group (NRWG), the Device Labelling and Trustmarks Working Group (DLTWG), and the Consumer Education Working Group (CEWG). Each had a different mandate of issues to address and produced preliminary conclusions and recommendations.

Do you have ideas on how to help make sure security is at the heart of our connected future? If so, I invite you to comment on the draft report. We’ll be accepting responses until 11:59:59pm on March 29, 2019.

What’s needed:

A complete comment should include:

  • Some level of agreement with the conclusions of the three working groups.
  • If you disagree with any of the conclusions, please say why and provide concrete information to support your opinion.
  • Any additional resources that this group, and other Canadian stakeholders, should consider.
  • Your assessment of what conclusions should be prioritized as the main recommendations.
  • Your view of how the overall report should be framed in terms of audience, themes, Canada’s role in the global conversation, or any other suggestions.
  • A willingness and/or capacity to contribute to this work going forward.

To submit, please send your comments as a PDF along with the name of the submitting individual or organization to Katie Jordan at

The Internet Society would like to thank all individuals and organizations who participated in this process so far. We look forward to continuing this dynamic national conversation on IoT security to help shape a safer connected future for all Canadians.

Internet Governance Internet of Things (IoT)

Collaborative Governance Leaders, Canada, and Senegal Exchange Notes on IoT Security Frameworks

Canada and Senegal partners are meeting for a comparative learning exchange on developing robust Internet of Things (IoT) Security frameworks in Ottawa, Canada 18-19 July. The Senegalese delegation visiting Ottawa is composed of representatives from the Ministry of Communication, Telecommunication, Posts and Digital Economy, the Authority for Telecommunications and Postal Regulations, and the ISOC Senegal Chapter. They are also accompanied by Internet Society directors for North America and Africa.

The two countries are strong supporters of the collaborative governance or multistakeholder model in addressing problems they encounter as Internet technology develops. Both countries have already begun adopting the model for domestic policy development focusing on IoT security. The learning exchange is part of the Internet Society supported Internet Governance campaign activity for both countries and will explore issues of mutual interest, connect stakeholders and exchange notes on the process.

In Canada, the Internet Society partnered with Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, CANARIE, and CIPPIC to convene stakeholders to develop recommendations for a set of norms/policy to secure the Internet of Things. The partners have agreed to focus on two specific thematic areas: consumer protection and network resilience. While in Senegal, the Internet Society partnered the ISOC Senegal Chapter, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Economy and the Senegalese Commission for Data Protection to explore the same.

Canada and Senegal are amongst the countries that are leading in demonstrating the collaborative, multistakeholder model of Internet governance.  These countries are showing leadership both in the region and globally in embracing the MS model to address pertinent Internet-related issues and effectively demonstrating commitment to tackle emerging issues related to technology. These two case studies may provide a powerful benchmark for using the MS model in addressing critical Internet issues in both the developed and developing world.

The focus subject matter, IoT is an evolving area and is changing rapidly and organically. New capabilities are added and new security weaknesses are being discovered almost every day. Understanding the growing impact that IoT security has on the Internet and its users is critical for safeguarding the future of the Internet. IoT manufacturers, IoT service providers, users, standards developing organizations (SDOs), policymakers, and regulators will all need to take action to protect against threats to Internet infrastructure, such as IoT-based DDoS attacks.

Do you know the risks of what you’re buying? Get IoT smart!

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.

Community Networks Events Growing the Internet

The Internet Society Hosts Successful Inaugural Indigenous Connectivity Summit

If U.S. Senator of New Mexico Tom Udall’s call that “we must do better” to ensure connectivity in Indigenous communities set the tone, delegates of the Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) in Santa Fe this month left with little doubt in our ability to do so.

Whether it’s a pueblo at the top of a mountain or a fly-in region in the Arctic, Internet access in many Indigenous communities is characterized by high costs, low speeds, data caps and poor or non-existent service.

At the Internet Society, we work to make sure the Internet is open and accessible to everyone, everywhere. The ICS was the first event of its kind to focus on ensuring Alaska Native, American Indian, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities have access to affordable, high-quality and sustainable Internet access. We heard from several Indigenous community network operators in North America and abroad about their experiences and the impact it’s had on their communities.

Perhaps the most resonant and inspiring message at the ICS was the potential of Indigenous community networks to provide access where commercial networks do not reach or serve, or areas where they may not be economically viable to operate. Speakers shared success stories of surmounting tremendous obstacles to establish by-the-community-for-the-community networks to close connectivity and cultural gaps.

As Internet Society CEO Kathy Brown put it, “In order to be connected to the economic backbone of the 21st century you have to be connected.”

Similarly, community-driven networks are critical to self-determination. We know that when people get access to the Internet, amazing things can happen. They can share ideas, build communities, start businesses, improve health outcomes, access education opportunities and support cultural and language preservation. This list of possibilities is endless.

As several ICS attendees noted, successful community networks also involve community networking.

The ICS was a good starting venue for community network manager/operators, Indigenous-owned Internet service providers, community members, researchers and policy makers, and Indigenous leadership to have a broader discussion about the value of connecting with each other to build capacity. We’re incredibly grateful to the youth, participants and speakers who dedicated valuable time to contributing to well-rounded conversations.

But the work has just begun.

As Kathy said at the outset of the Summit, to be truly successful in our mission to ensure all communities can get connected, “We can’t just fly in and fly out.”

The ICS was the start of a much larger and very critical conversation about how we can work and partner with Indigenous communities to ensure they can connect themselves to the Internet on their own terms.

To keep the ball rolling, we are working on a report on the ICS to make knowledge publicly available and contribute to future discussions with key stakeholders.

Internet Society will also continue its work to foster an enabling environment where Indigenous communities can connect and build community networks. This includes developing strategic partnerships and supporting opportunities for education and capacity building, initiatives that promote infrastructure, as well as supportive governance and policies.

Just as community networks are built and operated by people working together and combining resources, it took many efforts to make ICS possible and accessible to all.

Internet Society is incredibly thankful to its partners at First Mile Connectivity Consortium, New Mexico Techworks, 1st-Mile Institute and the recently-created Internet Society New Mexico chapter. We would also like to thank our event sponsors who played an equally important part in bring the event to fruition, including Google, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), REDI Net, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Their support and generosity was critical to the success of the ICS.

The Internet is a powerful tool for change, but we can’t meaningfully move forward if millions are left behind. ISOC was founded by some of the Internet’s earliest pioneers and we have an important mission to work for an Internet that is open, global and secure – today and for future generations.

We encourage all ICS delegates to keep the momentum going by sharing what they’ve learned with people in their own communities and networks. Use our discussions to set goals, influence policy makers, and develop solutions and business models that respond to individual community connectivity needs now and into the future. 

Did you miss the Indigenous Connectivity Summit?

To learn more and access video of panels, presentations and discussion, please visit the event’s page.

Community Networks Growing the Internet

By Indigenous Communities, for Indigenous Communities

At the Internet Society, we believe that the Internet is for everyone. We’re standing by that belief by supporting network development and deployment for indigenous communities that face Internet access challenges.

Community networks, communications infrastructure deployed and operated by local people, offer indigenous communities a way to access the Internet to meet their own needs. These community networks offer a connection to health, education, and economic strength. For many, affordable, high-quality Internet access means community sustainability. In addition, community networks encourage policymakers and regulators to examine new ways and means to fill local digital divides, like supporting local content in the appropriate language(s).

These benefits are not theoretical; we have seen great changes through small projects and united community members working toward a common goal. There are many success stories of indigenous community networks around the world. Take a look at how some of our partners have been working with indigenous communities to develop community networks:

  • The First Mile Connectivity Consortium supports remote and rural First Nations developing and innovating with information and communication technologies (ICT) through research, policy, and outreach. Their website highlights stories of people like Bruce Buffalo, who developed a system that offers four free Internet access points to the Maskwacis First Nation in Alberta, Canada. You can watch his story here.
  • The Internet Society Chapter of Mexico helped bring wireless connectivity to indigenous and rural people in Las Parotas, Cacahuatepec and Aguas Calientes. After their community was hit by hurricanes in 2013, locals came together to create a community network not only to get help in emergencies, but to support education and economic development. You can watch their story here.

This November 8th and 9th, the Indigenous Connectivity Summit will bring together community network pioneers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to develop strategies and solutions to help connect indigenous communities to the Internet.

In addition, we will host a two-day training session on November 6th and 7th for indigenous people who are currently operating a community network, or who are considering deploying one. Attendees will share and learn about community networks and navigating the complex policy environments in North American and beyond. We do not expect all attendees to come with prior knowledge of community networks. In fact, we want to hear from you to guide the training days. The Indigenous Connectivity Summit will be driven by indigenous people, for indigenous people. Join us.

Register for the Indigenous Connectivity Summit here.

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit is an initiative of the Internet Society, the Internet Society New Mexico Chapter, the 1st-Mile Institute, New Mexico TechWorks, and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium.

Community Networks Growing the Internet

Connecting Indigenous Communities

Internet access is often a challenge associated with developing countries. But while many of us in North America have the privilege of access at our fingertips, it’s still a huge barrier to success for many rural and remote Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States.

According to the 2016 Broadband Progress Report, 10% of Americans lack access to broadband. The contrast is even more striking when you look at Internet access in rural areas, with 39% lacking access to broadband of 25/4Mbps, compared to 4% in urban areas.

Many Canadian rural and remote communities face similar access issues. In December 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) set targets for Internet service providers (ISPs) to offer customers in all parts of the country broadband at 50/10Mbps with the option of unlimited data. CRTC estimates two million households, or roughly 18% of Canadians, don’t have access to those speeds or data.

Let those figures sink in for a minute. Today in 2017, millions of people in North America still don’t have access to broadband Internet.

It’s an even harder to pill to swallow when you realize how disproportionately and gravely it affects indigenous communities, many of which are in rural and remote locations across North America. Internet access in these communities is increasingly a lifeline to health, education, and economic development. For many, it is a vital link to the world and means the difference between being remote and isolated.

When we think of the future of the Internet, surely we can’t move forward in a meaningful way if millions are left behind.

The challenge? It’s a huge infrastructure investment.

North Americans already pay among the most in the world for broadband access, and it’s nowhere near the fastest. According to FCC, half of American homes have only two options for Internet service providers for basic broadband. For faster speeds, a majority of households have only one choice. Several cities have chosen to create their own municipal broadband services to compete with larger providers.

Rural markets, however, face a bigger challenge with massive entry costs for ISPs due to low population densities. Companies often have to lay their own fibre or cable to provide Internet access.

In the Canadian North, delivering high-speed services to remote indigenous communities that span a vast geographical expanse is extremely expensive and difficult. Residents pay high costs for slow speeds that often make just opening an email attachment painfully difficult. I’m reminded of a Facebook post from a friend who lives in Nunavut: “When your internet is so slow you search for a phone number but have time to find a phone book and get the number before Google produces a result.”

As we grow increasingly dependant on the Internet for services that are vital to a sustainable community, it’s more important than ever to make sure everyone can get up to speed. The Internet Society is committed to an Internet for everyone, everywhere. We envision a world where everyone can access and help develop a connected, borderless, limitless Internet that creates opportunity and progress for all. That’s why we’re taking on one of our most important efforts yet to make sure to Internet is inclusive to everyone in North America.

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit (ICS) on November 8 to 9, 2017 in Santa Fe, New Mexico will be a unique event focused on connecting Indigenous communities to the Internet. In a two-day series of panels and presentations, we’ll help find solutions to ensure Alaska Native, American Indian, Inuit, First Nation, and Métis communities have affordable, high-quality, and sustainable Internet access. Pre-summit education days will provide an opportunity for indigenous community members to share and learn about deploying sustainable community networks and navigating the complex policy environments in Canada and the U.S.

We’re not starting from scratch. There are many incredible success stories of indigenous community networks in North America and around the world. The ICS will showcase these innovators to inspire strategies and solutions to help get all communities up to speed.

Just as it took many efforts to shape the Internet into what it is today, it will take a community effort to make sure it works for everyone. We know there are many people with ideas about how to connect Indigenous communities, and many more who can help can bring these solutions to fruition.

That’s what we hope to achieve at the Indigenous Connectivity Summit. We’re gathering over 200 community network managers/operators, indigenous-owned Internet service providers, community members, researchers, policy makers, and indigenous leadership to discuss what Internet access means to communities and how to make it work for everyone.

Thanks to the open access, permission-free environment afforded to us by the Internet, we’ve already proved we can accomplish great things when we work together. It’s time to step up our efforts. Otherwise, many Indigenous communities will get stuck in a continuous game of catch up as technology continues to evolve beyond their infrastructure means.

If you have ideas on how to make the Internet more accessible to indigenous communities, we want to hear from you. Registration will open soon for the Indigenous Connectivity Summit. I hope you can join us!

The Indigenous Connectivity Summit is an initiative of the Internet Society, the Internet Society New Mexico Chapter, the 1st-Mile InstituteNew Mexico Techworks, and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium.

Building Trust Development Economy Encryption Improving Technical Security Privacy

Encryption is Crucial to a Trusted Internet

The Five Eyes – Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand – recently met in Ottawa to discuss national security challenges. The resulting joint communiqué noted that “encryption can severely undermine public safety efforts by impeding lawful access to the content of communications during investigations into serious crimes, including terrorism.” The Internet Society believes that this view of encryption is misleading and bodes badly for a trusted Internet. Any weakening of encryption will hurt cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms. In fact, the consequences of weakened encryption would go further.

Encryption . . .

  • Is an important component of a trusted Internet. User trust is critical to the Internet’s utility; without it, the potential of the Internet will be stunted. Today’s increasing cyber threats underscore the need for strong encryption.
  • Supports economic development. Without encryption, the Internet cannot facilitate the online services that drive economic growth worldwide. E-commerce sites and banks use encryption to allow users to make secure transactions that can only be seen by the people involved.
  • Protects social development. We know that activists and journalists rely on encryption for their safety. For the everyday user, encryption protects privacy and freedom of thought, association, and expression.
  • Keeps people safe. Individuals in vulnerable communities, such as victims of domestic abuse and undercover police officers, rely on encryption to communicate anonymously. Undermining encryption would hurt the safety of the people security agencies are charged with protecting.

Introducing measures to weaken encryption would have risks that significantly outweigh the conceived national security benefits. In fact, bad actors will likely find alternative clandestine communication methods.

The Five Eyes’ joint communiqué stated their commitment to “develop our engagement with communications and technology companies to explore shared solutions while upholding cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms”. If encryption is undermined, that promise rings hollow.

As the Directors of the Regional Bureaus that include the Five Eyes countries, we are pleased that the Internet Society has joined a coalition of more than 80 organizations and individuals calling on the Five Eyes to respect encryption.

  • Mark Buell, Regional Bureau Director, North America
  • Frédéric Donck, Regional Bureau Director, Europe
  • Rajnesh D. Singh, Regional Bureau Director, Asia-Pacific