Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Access to Internet – A fundamental human right

I have had a chance to attend a workshop on Access and Diversity of Broadband Internet Access Center for Science, Development and Media studies on the first day of IGF 2011. The key discussion revolved around the fact that access to Internet is a fundamental human right and the measures that some of the governments have taken in order to provide this fundamental right to their citizens. The panelists of the workshop further reinforced that faster Internet speeds pave the way for launching e-solutions that can be applied to health, education, agriculture, economy and other important aspects of human life. In addition to faster speeds and access to sophisticated infrastructure, capacity building of masses is very necessary for realization of benefits that Internet offers.

However, we see that there are some countries in the developing world that are unable to access to basic necessities of life including food, water, shelter, education, healthcare and electricity. If the citizens are provided with Internet connection when they do not have proper food, clean water and basic education, they will never be able to make anything good out of it. On the other hand, if these people are altogether deprived of the Internet, the digital divide will be widened even more. Therefore, prioritizing Internet over these very basic and extremely essential rights still remains a big question for the less privileged part of the world and needs to be taken care of with a balanced approach and vision.

Internet Governance

What is the future of IGF?

The future of IGF is related with the issue of Internet, freedom and human rights.

So here are my few thoughts.

– If you ask me a question as:  Do you think “Internet” should be free like air and water?

– My answer is: “You are asking me wrong question!”

– Why, the term “Internet” and “Water” or “Air” are different and can not be compare. We can only compare between these terms if we add another term here is “Content”

– So now we can compare like this.

– Internet = Pipe

– Content= Water.

– Now you can ask me:  “Should Internet (Pipe) should be free for all?”

– My answer for you is: Yes it should be completely free for all. (But in reality pipe is not free!)

– Again you can ask me: “Should Content (Water) should be free for all?”

– My answer for you is: NO it should not be free but should be regulated (But in reality water is also not free! – Till to date –  1.2 billion people are without clean drinking water.  (source)– – No one has right to feed dirty drinking water to the  citizens.

– Again you can ask me another question: Is access of Content (or Internet) is human right?

– Then my answer is like this: Yes it should be count under basic human right. But! But!! But!!! Human rights the terms it self is controversy around the world and mostly the definition is dominated from political dictionary. And it can not be define from one aspects or dimension. We need lawyer, we need government, we need civil society, we need business man, we need academia and technocrats and we need end user etc.

– So here comes the meaning of IGF (Internet Governance Forum) a forum for multi-stake holder discussion. It creates the environment that all the stakeholders can sit together and can discuss all the old and new issues ahead them. And this process is dynamic , does not have end.  IGF does not decide any things, nor it has this mandate, but! but!! but!!! it supports every one to come in common ground to understand the issues.

– So the future of IGF has more more  important and it should not  have end it should be continue for long long time in the way how it is going on.

Internet Governance

The Essence of Leadership in IGF Issues

Internet, a technologically complex global communication network and information medium is a chaos, when viewed from multi-stakeholder perspectives. The issues of Internet Governance (IG) are as new as the technology itself in some parts of the world, particularly in developing countries like the Pacific Islands where I am. Imagine trying raising awareness and engaging people on IG issues in such regions where the reliable internet connectivity and increased access is only a wish.

On the other hand, how do you comprehend the nature of internet from multi-sectoral perspective on a common platform, concerning its growth as well as its reflections of social, political, economic, legal, and cultural values? And how do you think that platform or forum have realized to what it is today, which they call Internet Governance Forum (GF), a multi-stakeholder forum which brings together all stakeholders in the internet governance to debate, whether they represent governments, private sector or civil society, including the technical and academic community, on an equal basis and through an open and inclusive process? The amazing success and ongoing of IGF reflects the leadership and commitment from certain individuals both upfront and in the background.

Among others, the global internet community owes Mr. Markus Kummer heaps of gratitude for his leadership and strategic diplomacy to fabricate all internet stakeholders from around the world to recognize the reality of internet governance and the need for multi-stakeholder engagement to discuss and address IG issues. After the Secretary-General has decided to establish a small Secretariat in Geneva to assist in the convening of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Markus Kummer was asked to head the Secretariat. And he did what were required and beyond expectations to groom the IGF model to gained the reputation it deserves.

I am a first-time ISOC Ambassador and this is my first IGF meeting. I met Markus at ISOC Briefing on the first day (26/09/11). He was very relaxed and so calm when responding to queries and the use of words in his responses were selective. One may argue that those few minutes of interaction with Markus does not deemed sufficient for a first-timer to really applaud Markus as a person, however, the event in Conference Room 2 at 6.30pm on Thursday (29/09/11) confirmed my impression. He was recognized by the IGF Secretariat and the global internet community with award of unprecedented Knight of the internet. What a perfect and timely recognition for him. The standing ovation from the packed conference room said it all.

The lesson: Emerging Issues, IG4D, Access & Diversity, Critical Internet Resources, and other pressing issues that you can think of; which had been debated throughout this week have equal significances. In the absence or presence of very limited multi-stakeholder support and political will, prudent and savvy leadership can make a difference. And that was what Markus Kummer has shown us aspiring leaders of internet.

Internet Governance

TS 258/134 – Improving the IGF: How can we get the most out of IGF Improvement Processes? / IGF improvements (Internet Society and ICC BASIS)

During this session the main points of discussions were what the main outcomes of IGF are, the main impact of IGF and what issues of IGF should be improved for future. One of the positive aspects of IGF is to have meetings in different continents, which should be continued in future. IGF should continue to be nonbinding, free from any constrains, so to benefit from multi-stakeholder dialogue. Several issues had been raised on how to improve the IGF process, particularly:

• Reinforcement of the role of regional and national IGFs and bring into global IGFs the input from local and national IGFs in more effective way.

• The importance of the diversity of the participation, including geographic participation, but also how to improve the participation of the whole spectrum of interested people from different groups, such as Governments, civil society, academia, etc. As well as to convene the representation from different national and regional forums to come together with IGF MAG.

• To renew the people who come to IGF, particularly have wider participation of youth

• To improve IGF website – as it was mentioned by one of the participants WSIS website is beautiful and empty, but IGF website is full but ugly.

• Key factor is that not only people that are represented in IGF, but their viewpoints are important to be publicly raised.

• The need of specific policy mechanisms. Not participation for the sake of it, but in the context of concrete policy issues.

Internet Governance

CIR 64: Interconnecting Africa: Opportunities and Obstacles Along the Way

On the third day of multistakeholder forum discussions at the IGF 2011, interconnection of fiber optic connectivity across the African region is again coming into focus. Many countries in Africa with direct access to the coast line have achieved submarine cable landings that link the countries direct to the rest of the world. Even with these positive developments, it has been noted that African countries still spend approximately 1.8 million euros every year for inter-African traffic exchange through internet exchange points in other territories outside of Africa. This expenses means that there is demand for cross-border data communications between African countries.

In the long term, it is easy to notice that investments to allow cross boarder connections in Africa has a valid business case that do not deserve to be ignored. Moreover, case studies done in Kenya and Egypt by OECD (, reports that there exists an interrelationship between international bandwidth infrastructure and its cost, local loop access services and content and its interrelationship with development.This can easily be pointed out as one of the reasons why these two countries continue to drive lots of investments within their ICT sectors and the general business areas that continue to stimulate economic progress and innovation of ICT services. The conclusions from this study emphasizes the fact that internet infrastructure is the basic foundation for macro-economic development.

Further, businesses and the private sector players may as well need to put emphasis that encourages the interrelationships between push and pull effects of demand and supply of access and local content provision for development.

On one hand, the industry still need legislation support with guideline for cross border infrastructure to be championed by the ITU, Governments and regional telecommunication industry regulators within Africa. On the other hand, there exists a need for the harmonization of various stakeholder inputs to achieve coherence in efforts and emphasis. The harmonization is also required in the policy and strategy frameworks within the many governments and regional trading block positions on the matter of ICT infrastructure inter connectivity and prioritization.

But access alone is not enough. New efforts need to be channeled into creating content. The content is key to derive consumer interest and thereby demand that will stimulate investment from the private sector players. Connectivity is important, but quality and affordability are equally paramount.

Internet Governance

Capacity: 89- “EI 108 Mobile and Cloud Services for Development International Chamber of Commerce, Paris Secretariat “

3rd day of IGF meeting in Kenya, one of the Panelists of the session said EU is focusing on creating competitive market in cloud computing business. Now thinking from the developing countries perspective, the developing countries have low capacity of investment. Size of investment some how not major but important to make their innovative product competitive with high standard and quality. So developing countries companies will be outside of this competition.  Developing countries will become only users of the service providers. It  has again creating  threat of  monopoly  in the bigger cloud service providers.

To prevent such monopoly-  – local companies from developed countries should empowered   to have a capacity for  participating it the global cloud computing business.  The empowerment should be done in the following issues, infrastructure, content, skill  and last but not least is investment capacity i:e business capacity. !!

Internet Governance

SOP 212: Privacy and Sercurity in an Open/Realtime/Linked Data World

On the second day at IGF 2011 in Nairobi, the workshop on privacy and security in an open/realtime/linked data world recognized alot of recent developments in making data available and accessible in many countries around the world. It was mentioned that Kenya is taking the lead among the sub-saharan countries in having public data available on the internet in realtime through the recent open data initiative championed by the government of Kenya (

Social open data initiaves has also been emphasised as a way of changing the way emergency and rescue operations can be conducted if systems are made available that collect and collate lots of information from users in different parts of the society. The concept of ushahidi project in Kenya ( has previously been used to allow faster response in calamity situations, starting with the search and rescure perations during the post election violence in kenya in 2008, rescure during the 2011 divastating Earthquake in Japan, the flooding situation in Haiti). These success stories show that open data can be used to save lives in societies and as well challenge the society into responsible use of information for the benefit of the community at large. For if this technology can be implmented to improve on the qualityof life, then guinuine reasons exist for the players in the  ICT subsector, governmnets,  regulatory agenecies and all the stakeholders to come together and nature the availability of open data and social media to develop and thrive for the benefit of the society at large.

But with all these positive outcomes of the open/realtime/linked data world, challanges for open data systems still exits. There are still criminals out there who will always look for opportunities to attack open data and the information it contains. There are also governments out there who may still shut down social networks and open data informations for political reasons. These challenges need multistakeholder forums to discuss and innovate methods, processes and policies that will allow the privacy and security of open data to be guranteed for the benefit of the society at large.

Internet Governance

Global principles in Internet Governance

“Global principles” – an idea that was raised during two different workshops taking place during the first day at IGF 2011: “Human rights come first: a constitutional moment for Internet Governance” and “Strengthening the protection of cross-border Internet personal data”.

On a general note, it was argued, during the first workshop, that there is a need for an international agreement on Internet Governance principles, and, more specifically, on human rights in the online world, so that they would apply everywhere in the world, to every stakeholder, going beyond the traditional national boundaries, just as the Internet goes beyond these boundaries.  However, this “international” term would not mean that the principles have to be agreed between governments and imposed as such to others Internet stakeholders: in order to be not only applicable, but also efficient, these principles would have to be decided upon and accepted by all stakeholders: governments, civil society, businesses and so on.

Once agreed that the world needs universal/global standards with regard to the human rights in the online world, the next question would be: what would be the framework for agreeing on such  principles? While some people in the workshop argued that the IGF is an excellent place to discuss such principles, it was emphasized that the forum might not be ready for representing the framework for a single, universal declaration or resolution on human rights on the Internet. At the same time, attention was drawn to the fact that the world already has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that the principles enshrined there should constitute the basis for whatever agreement would be reached on Internet Governance principles and that there is no need to try to build these principles once again, only because they would apply to the Internet.

One very important point that was made was related to the fact that, even if a global agreement on human rights on the Internet would be agreed, it would have little value unless it was backed by a set of implementing guidelines, so that the principles would be implemented in a similar way at different levels and in different countries around the world.

The other workshop was focused on the issue of personal data protection in the online world and the perspective of reaching a global consensus on what the data protection standards should be. At the moment there are several frameworks on data protection: the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection (Convention 108), the OECD Guidelines, the EU Directive on data protection. The standards enshrined into these frameworks do not, however, have a global character, not being uniformly applicable at international level. Given that the Internet is a worldwide phenomenon and that personal data are being processed and transferred on a regular basis beyond the national borders, the existence of some global standards would guarantee a higher degree of protection for these data. But how feasible is the idea of an international binding framework on data protection? And what would be the basis for such a framework? The Council of Europe and EU current frameworks on data protection are being revised and there is a discussion on whether new principles should be included in these frameworks and if yes, what these principles would be: privacy by design, clearer rules on informed consent, data portability, data minimization, accountability, the right to oblivion. But how helpful would that be at an international scale, given that the new frameworks, even if they included new principles, would not be compulsory for every stakeholder in the world?  Would the US, for example, ever agree to adopt the European principles on data protection? While everybody agreed that for the moment there is a lot of uncertainty for Internet users and for businesses around the world with regard to the data protection principles that are applicable in a certain situation and that some global rules would simplify things, the above questions have remained opened.

Internet Governance

Workshop 130: Protecting the most vulnerable users in society: The roles of different actors in helping the new user survive in an on-line world

Today I have attended a session “Protecting the Most Vulnerable Users in Society: The Roles of Different Actors in Helping the New User Survive in the On-Line World“, organized by Nominet. The session started with a presentation of Dr. Vicky Nash of the Oxford Internet Institute about results of a survey Age and Trust in the Internet: The Centrality of Experience and Attitudes Toward Technology in Britain. The survey characterizes new users joining the Internet, many of whom are those who are hardest to reach, impeded by their income or disabilities. The research analyzes also the users who give up on using the Internet. One of the conclusions of the report is that trust does not decrease as the users gain experience using the Internet.

Alice Munuya of Kenya has raised some issues that need to be addressed in legislation, like hate speech online and transmitted via mobile services, that is not properly addressed in the legislation. Participants agreed that Internet related issues seldom require a new law and identified issues with prosecution of the crimes committed online as well as definition problems when referring to terms like “assault”, which might have been extended to the verbal harassment.

Number of policy implications have been discussed, including issues like whether tools to manage risks online should be made available to the users. One of the important questions was accessibility of the educational material distributed – I have raised the importance of using open standards as opposed
to building information ghettos for particular kinds of disabilities.

Internet Governance

Workshop 113: Access and Diversity of Broadband Internet Access

From various presentations given at the Access and Diversity of Broadband Internet workshop, views from Brazil and India indicate that broadband access to the internet has remained expensive in comparison to mobile phones calling rates. The question then arise that why is this so, while broadband internet is mainly deployed through the same  cellular communications infrastructure (i.e.3G and LTE) which offers mobile voice services?

What policy frameworks can the governments and communication sector regulators put in place to address the issues of broadband access costs and offer diversity in broadband accessibility options?

What business strategies can the communications service providers adopt to help them maintain sustainable business models while at the same time fulfilling the  huge demand of high speed broadband internet access access at affordable cost?

Internet Governance

IGF 6 in Nairobi – pre-event – ISOC briefing day

“What Leadership means to you”, the question with which we started our introduction as ISOC Ambassadors and Returning Ambassadors. “EMPOWERING”, “BEING ABLE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS”, “LEARNING” are the key meaning of leadership shared by many of us. Use IGF floor for being actively engaged, asking questions, raising your concerns publicly – that’s  advice to all.