Internet Governance

Open Call To The Next Generation of Internet Leaders – Apply for the IGF Youth Ambassadors Program

We are living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 has disrupted our world and it’s a crucial time for the Internet. We are facing issues related to misinformation, online education and connectivity. Challenges have been posed to encryption. Debates around the trade-off between privacy and contact tracing apps take place around the globe.

The acceleration of digital transformation worldwide has created immense opportunities and at the same time, uncertainty and challenges. Under these circumstances, youth must be represented in these discussions.

Young people know the benefits of connection, sharing and openness. Young engineers and programmers create new tools for the Internet every day, and many proposals about governance of new technologies come from interested people below the age of 30.

We grew up in cyberspace, and it has become an intrinsic part of many of our lives. We care for it, we value its principles, invariants and characteristics. Most of all, we understand how important the Internet is and how much of a force for good (or for evil) it can be.

The voice of youth matters and the Internet Society plays a significant role to empower the next generation of Internet leaders and to provide them with the freedom to voice out.

The IGF Youth Ambassadors Program provides youth with training and opportunities to participate in the global Internet ecosystem and to interact and engage with the broader Internet Governance community.

I must say that the experience of being a fellow from the Internet Society Youth Ambassadors program is unique. Since the beginning, the ambassadors have the opportunity to share their views on how Internet policy shall be made and learn from each other. Youth from across multiple continents are part of vibrant discussions as part of the online course.

Likewise, Youth Ambassadors participate in one of the world’s largest forums dedicated to a free and open Internet. It is an incredible opportunity to get mentorship, build networking and become change makers.

What impressed me the most is that at the forum there are no experts, everyone’s perspective was respectfully considered. We even had the amazing opportunity to be in a round table with Vint Cerf and raise our voices.

The program inspired me to deliver meaningful impact at a local level. After the forum I became part of the organizing committee of the first Youth Internet Governance Forum in Peru in December, 2019. Currently, with some IGF Youth Ambassadors we are working towards the organization of the Youth Latin American and the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum to be held remotely on August 1st and 2nd.

I wholeheartedly recommend the program. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn and network with the Internet pioneers and innovators who made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the Internet.

As youth, we expect to play a part in shaping the future of the Internet. We have the commitment to refresh ideas and share our perspectives for a trustworthy and open Internet. The IGF Youth Ambassadors Program is a path to fulfill that commitment.

The application process is open until June 28, would you miss this open call to the next generation of Internet leaders?

Internet Governance Shaping the Internet's Future

Empowering More Gretas: Introducing the 2019 IGF Youth Ambassadors

When 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg burst onto the global scene a few months ago, people underestimated the power this young girl would have to raise awareness and rally the world around climate change. Today, she has become a fearless advocate, boldly speaking out and holding politicians to account for their lack of action on the climate crisis. We need more Gretas.

And they’re out there.

We’re proud to introduce 30 young changemakers who make up the 2019 cohort of the Internet Society’s IGF Youth Ambassadors Program. The group is made up of 15 women and 15 men from 21 countries. This cadre of young leaders are working on many of the pressing issues affecting the Internet globally.

In November, they’ll bring their drive for change to Berlin, Germany, to take part in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). This is an annual multistakeholder forum for inclusive policy dialogue on shared principles, procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. Although not an official decision-making body, the IGF remains an important forum. Many of the world’s experts in and advocates for the Internet gather there for discussion, networking, research sharing, and best practices from around the world.

Since 2007, the Internet Society has supported nearly 400 young professionals under its two programs, the IGF Ambassadors and the Youth@IGF Fellows. This year, under the IGF Youth Ambassadors program, we are training and empowering 30 young adults, aged 18 through 30. An initial group of 150 selected applicants took a 4-week online course and were paired with dedicated expert moderators. The top 50 students proceed to the next phase, where they write a paper on an existing or emerging area in Internet Governance, drawing on what they’ve learned in the course. The authors of the best papers become our 30 IGF Youth Ambassadors.

We have no doubt these young leaders will inspire others across a range of disciplines to reinforce the sustainability, security, stability, and development of the Internet.

Many of our Ambassadors have already led some impressive initiatives, including:

  • Mohammad Atif Aleem, an Indian ICT analyst at a multinational firm, founded a start-up to empower women farmers through agritech, and co-founded an online platform for medical diagnostic tests through a mobile app.
  • Fernanda González, a software developer from Guatemala, won the first blockchain hackathon in Central America with a protocol to integrate rural students to the global economy. She is currently working on a social enterprise to help rural areas connect to the Internet and help researchers and communities gather data on water quality.
  • John Madayese, a management consultant from Nigeria, has worked on policy development and founded a pan-African non-profit platform that offers personal and career development for African youth through various symposia.

Find out more about this year’s IGF Youth Ambassadors!

We hope that some of our IGF Youth Ambassadors will raise their voices on the global stage and become change-makers – whether by championing policies in their home countries or influencing global debates to spread the benefits of the Internet.

Internet Governance

The Importance of the Multistakeholder Approach: My Experience at the Internet Governance Forum

My name is Gustavo Babo, I’m from Brazil and I’m a Law and Political Science student. One of my biggest interests is to understand the best way to create national and international policies related to the Internet and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Blockchain. Having participated in the IGF as a 2018 Youth@IGF Fellow has enhanced my perspective on the future of all these technologies. Enjoy my opinion!

Throughout the IGF event, in all the panels I have attended, I have noticed one thing in common: the feeling that the human being has had less-and-less control over technology and its implications. The unpredictable factor for the future of some emerging technologies that have developed very rapidly is a situation that divided the event into two perspectives: some of those present believe that technology will bring to the world many positive situations and we need to collaborate with its acceleration to any cost. However, there are others who fear the speed and lack of control of the impacts of these technologies – which are really transforming the world – believing also that the human being may be tracing a disastrous path for itself, since we no longer control the consequences of the development of the technology.

A situation that supports these different perspectives well and the uncertainty of how people might proceed in the face of the accelerated development of technology is the speech of the president of France at the event, Emmanuel Macron. The president also shared the same uncertainties discussed there in the forum, always on the wall and saying that we need to promote the growth of technologies in a healthy and positive way and we must try to prevent the second pessimistic perspective from happening. Macron’s solution to this is a greater government approach and possible intervention through regulations and public policy. (You can read his speech here.)

However, Macron is not necessarily right. Sharing experiences in the forum with different countries of the world, I realized that there are innumerable perspectives regarding the future of technology in each country. Thus, it is possible to say that the human being does not yet know the best way to lead the emerging technologies, there are many opinions about these technologies that imply different results, many still unknown, as we can see in a global analysis of countries that adopt more or less restrictive regulations and policies. Therefore, we can conclude that we do not yet know how to regulate (or not regulate) technology and how best to create policies. However, at least we can say that we already know what is the ideal model to discuss these technologies, which is the multi-participatory or multistakeholder model adopted by the Internet Governance Forum. This is exactly what was made clear to me during the experience of attending the forum as an Internet Society Youth@IGF Fellow. The model that the forum works is absolutely exceptional in what it proposes and it is exactly in this style of discussion that the world will discover what to do with all this.

The Multistakeholder Model

This is the model used by the UN forum to discuss the different perspectives, regulations, and policies of the Internet and emerging technologies. The multistakeholder model consists of a discussion involving representation from all interested sectors: the private sector, the government sector, the academic community, the technical community, and civil society. These actors participate through an inclusive and egalitarian basis. In this way, the interests of multiple parties are met and the results of the discussion can be very positive and balanced. To be sure, this is the model of discussion we must follow in order to understand the best way to conduct technology from a national or global perspective. We still do not know how to regulate, but it is clear that with this model of discussion we will have the best results, since, for example, discussions between engineers alone or between politicians have already proved to be very unproductive and unrealistic. We need to move this model to other discussions, regulations, and policymaking that involve technology as quickly as possible. As I said, we still do not know how we should regulate technology and create public policies. In this way, we should discuss how to do this – using this model. So, one day we will know how to do it in the best way. I hope it’s not too late!

Young people are one of the categories most affected by these technologies and Youth@IGF promotes their approach to the discussion environments. The program gives form and voice for young people to contribute to the important debates. In addition, the program also serves as training for hundreds of young people who will one day move from Youth to You. We need to think in the long term to have more and more qualified people around the world to participate in debates and decisions in the world of technology.

Thank You(th)!

Read “We Won’t Save the Internet by Breaking It.”

Image from APrIGF 2018 ©Frederic Courbet/Panos Pictures

Internet Governance

We’re looking for young, dynamic people who are passionate about the opportunities the open Internet can bring!

We’re looking for young, dynamic individuals who are passionate about the opportunities the open Internet can bring!

What’s an IGF Ambassador?

Every year we send a group of dynamic and progressive next generation leaders to one of the world’s largest forums dedicated to a free and open Internet.

What’s The IGF?

The Internet Governance Forum (known to many as the IGF) is an annual United Nations event.

It’s the ultimate bridge builder where everyone – regardless of background – can work together to build solutions to pressing online issues like boosting access or building online trust.

There are no decisions by design. It is a place to build ideas can and share case studies of what’s worked and what hasn’t when it comes to solving issues impacting the Internet.

This year it takes place from 6 – 9th December in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

What Will I Do?

Ambassadors take part in the Forum itself, providing subject matter expertise and facilitating the exchange of information and best practices with key stakeholders participating in the meetings. In the lead up to the Forum, each Ambassador will be paired with a mentor to help them prepare for the meeting. They will also be engaged in the Internet Society’s planning activities for the organization’s work at the IGF.

Your views are critical. The Internet is currently facing a number of threats to its viability and evolution, and as such the need for local voices has never been stronger.

We will need you to take what you’ve learned back home and apply it to your work or studies.

We asked our 2015 IGF Ambassadors: What does the Internet mean to you?

Do I Qualify?

IGF Ambassadors are part of the Next Generation Leaders (NGL) programme, which focuses on building a unique and diverse community of the world’s most dynamic and exceptional young leaders. If you’re between the ages of 20 and 40 and passionate about the opportunities an open Internet can bring to people around the world, you already have a great foundation.

You could be a student, activist, hacktivist, technologist, entrepreneur, designer, blogger, social media expert, policymaker, every day user, or more.

Get a full list of criteria hereInterested in going? Apply Now

Internet Governance

Bringing Important Voices to the Internet Governance Dialogue

Internet Society’s Ambassadors to the 9th Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul

Please join the Internet Society in congratulating this year’s cohort of Next Generation Ambassadors to the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) taking place in Istanbul 2-5 September.

This accomplished group of next generation leaders work around the globe and across disciplines. As policy makers, technologists, academics, journalists, activists, and business persons they represent the passions, interests, and voices of their communities.

They also represent the spirit and practice of the IGF through their commitment to engage in multistakeholder mechanisms and to take best practices from the communities to the IGF and from the IGF back to their communities — ultimately designing and delivering local solutions to drive global impact.

Formed in 2011, the Internet Society’s Internet Leadership programme brings under a single umbrella many of the Internet Society’s leadership and education initiatives. This builds on the Internet Society’s deep and broad history of capacity building.

Now in its 7th year, the Internet Society’s Ambassadors to IGF ensures that the next generation of Internet leaders and influencers have visibility and voice — and are equipped to drive the outcomes that are so important to all of us and the billions yet to come online.

2014 is a critical year in addressing the significant challenges for the global Internet. We are excited about bringing these new and important voices to this year’s IGF — and seeing and experiencing their future contributions.

Learn more about their extraordinary and diverse backgrounds on our website.

Internet Governance

My Postcard

A couple of days ago, I received a postcard in my mailbox.

Yes, you guessed right – my post office box. This postcard brought back lots of memories about the IGF in Bali, Indonesia. Most importantly, it was a reminder of the promise I made to myself and to other participants in my discussion group during the ISOC Chapters workshop. I promised to create awareness in my community. First, I was really impressed that the organizers of the workshop had taken their time to mail these postcards to all participants but then I remembered that the Internet Society strives to make the world a better place by connecting the world, working with others and advocating for equal access to the Internet.

When we were handed postcards and asked to write the one thing that we were going to do after the IGF, I wrote ‘CREATE AWARENESS’. In a few minutes, my colleagues helped me think of ideas of how this could be achieved. The ideas were amazing and not difficult to achieve. So, after that reminder, I am going to do what I promised – to let people in my community know about the Internet and how it can be used for development. 

Human Rights Internet Governance

Internet for the development: People from all sides is needed.

The Internet, since its inception, has had an enormous impact on society and more recently in the countries economy. In this era, governments are faced with public issues such as combating illegal or inappropriate content and take appropriate measures to protect the consumer, but such things become secondary when citizens can not fully benefit from all the possibilities the internet provides. 

Some people might think that the internet is not a priority when there are other situations to resolve in a country, for example, seek progress in economic or educational sectors, but the internet has become an incredible tool to support the development, some would say is a critical resource and any serious disruption in service can have terrible effects on society and economy. Many business systems, financial services and public administration depends entirely on the assumption that Internet connectivity is available, to the point that any major disruption could seriously diminish the citizens’ access to key services.

The growing importance of this resource to society increasingly demands that governments actively participate in taking key decisions in defense of the public interest, but this does not mean that governments should fully control the ordinary operation of the Internet, although they feel obliged to intervene to a greater or lesser extent, and should do it with effective public policies.Then there is also the private sector and its undisputed leadership in building the Internet as we know it, so it is necessary to maintain and encourage this initiative, considering that more investment and market competitiveness,  will allow best offers for civil society which (unknowingly) trust their governments to ensure that governance mechanisms reflects the public interest of society and can not be sidetracked by other interests, though it is curious that this group, in some countries, does not participate or is represented in any way in the Internet governance forums.

Agreements on Internet governance must be fully inclusive of all sectors and respond to the urgent need to improve the participation of developing countries in key decision-making forums. Perhaps the lack of interest of civil society in the governance of the Internet, especially in these countries, is given by the fact that there is much misinformation on the subject, what Internet governance is really about? Am I interested? If you’re a user of the internet (and who does not in this globalized world?) Of course you’re interested, and there are several issues to be analyzed. A sector is also very important in these matters is the academy, and what better than the university sector to inform the society since bases of its formation? from the engineer with technical knowledge of the procedures and protocols that are used in this area until the lawyer who argues for the fundamental rights of users online.

A strong and clear framework can encourage investment in defining the objectives to be supported and limits must not be crossed. This includes the need for governments to establish that these principles are respected, but if these mechanisms fail, or worse, the same government restricts people’s access to quality internet, keep in mind that the real power is in hands of civil society that is able to defend and enforce their rights, because we must not forget that the Internet was declared as a highly protected human right.

Internet Governance

Protecting children the most vulnerable online users

The Internet is not a safe place. While there is a positive knock on effect that children who have access to technology have on those who are underprivileged and do not have access in being able to share tools and learning; there is the issue of children harming each other (through bullying) and themselves (via self generated images), in addition to paedophilia. Grooming is now the biggest issue for kids (alot of which has to do with self generated pictures).

What is the differentiation and variation between harmful content and criminal content? The two issues become very conflated from a governance point of view. Solutions to remove such harmful or criminal content can be to: issue a takedown notice, blocking list until such content is removed, and report the content.

In itself, technology plays a huge role through family safety settings, guidance and education, and providing the customer and consumers with tips on online safety. An example is photo DNA created by Google (which is made free to law enforcement) which creates a ‘DNA’ of the worst of the worst images and ensures those are removed. A report on how Technology is able to thwart crimes online will be available in spring next year.

ITU and UN support the global cybersecurity centre through IMPACT and child online protection. There is a holistic framework of 5 pillars-

–       Legal measures

–       Technical measures/standards

–       Organisation structures

–       Capacity building

–       International cooperation

It is necessary to assist countries in building national frameworks and this requires an understanding the difference between developing and developed countries in terms of implementation. UK law is strict and can be used as a back office tool to help remove harmful and criminal content, though there are specific cultural nuances that may need to be applied. For instance Mauritius is utilising UK law in this way and is hosting a youth engagement summit in December and Uganda is setting up a similar system. With the trend in Africa for children to have access via mobiles as opposed to in a classroom, such cultural nuance makes it is more difficult to monitor.

The cost of investment to provide child protection online is large and there is scope for the private sector to get involved. Consumers chose the service provider that can facilitate child safety. But this does not just provide a competitive advantage, it is a good thing to do and demonstrates good business sense. Microsoft is one organisation which forms partnerships with the Internet Watch Foundation and law enforcement. In the future public/private and public/civil society partnership in this area will become more relevant, though this depends on the private sector becoming more concerned about this issue and having a responsibility for everyone to have a safe experience online.

It is particularly interesting to see the changes in content patterns, in particular the prevalence of a particular type of harmful and criminal content, as well as where the content is hosted. There is a need to educate parents, teachers, advocates, law enforcement of these trends and appropriate safeguards in a way that can reach children (for instance kids mentoring kids, as well as training kids to know how to deal with threats and mitigate risks online).

Session Details:WS 327 Protection of most vulnerable children online

22 October 2013- Day 1; 9-10.30am: Room#2 Nusa Dua Hall1

Growing the Internet Internet Governance Technology

No Small Island Developing State is an Island

In the aftermath of IGF 2013, whether you participated remotely or in person or are currently rummaging through the workshop videos and transcripts, you are likely solidifying your takeaways. Will IGF be another talkshop or will it make a fundamental difference to your work, your community, your region? In the SIDS of Trinidad and Tobago, work continues, striving to make ICT interventions applicable, meaningful and a real difference to people’s lives. By its very definition a SIDS, a small island developing state is an island but the isolated nature that an island geography connotes was powerfully challenged by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Roundtable at the IGF which brought together voices from all over the world to collaborate on shared experiences, challenges and insights.

Workshop # 33, SIDS Roundtable: The Broadband (Access) Dilemma was organised by ISOC Trinidad and Tobago Chapter with partnership and alliance with colleagues oceans away from the Pacific Islands ISOC Chapter (PICISOC).  It was a followup from another SIDS discussion at IGF 2012 that sought to bring SIDS issues to the main agenda of the IGF and foster collaboration among islands from regions strewn across the globe. In the early Bali morn, on the fringes of the agenda before any other workshop was carded to start, a few SIDS converged then the tide swelled as representation from interest groups from Islands and remote regions across sectors, Government, Private Sector, Academia, Civil Society across the world converged. This was in many ways, IGF at its best, an opportunity for shared interests across the globe to converge in shared interests that can challenge a singular view or an isolated perspective and widen the scope of possibility.

It was a very meaningful example for me on the power of getting people from different SIDS, different remote regions across the globe and uprising their voices to the main agenda. On a very personal level, my PhD project at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is a study situated in Trinidad and Tobago but it is part of an ARC Linkage study of the Pacific that to me gives real testament for the potential of this global collaboration among SIDS. Local specificities of context are real but the SIDS Roundtable at IGF gave voice to the many shared issues between islands territories such as the Cook Islands and Chuuk (Micronesia) and together with colleagues from Australia, New Zealand and beyond expanded this to the shared experiences with the remote rural.

This isn’t a blog so much about the Broadband Access Dilemma that the workshop broached. That is an important topic of course. See the webcast, get involved in the discussion and share solutions. This is a blog on a takeaway from IGF on the Dilemma of going away to corners of the world and working in little pockets when there is so much insight, so many experiences and best and worst practices that could make your work more successful, more meaningful. IGF succeeds in a measure if it can create linkages and strong ties that make possible concrete change to the work in different regions based on learnings from others who have or are facing similar issues. If someone in an island in Trinidad and Tobago can benefit from the experiences of or lend some assistance to someone in the Pacific then there is a real tangible takeaway from IGF. If there is a network built where people in across the globe can ask a question, start a discussion, work on a solution with someone from separated by something as small as an ocean then IGF makes a powerful success. If people can have their voices however small heard, if people leave with a conceptual shift that allows them to create a better reality in their own niche then the IG ecosystem is working.

Growing the Internet Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Women in Tech

What place for Women as Software Developers?

At the 8th IGF, i had the great opportunity to be part of a panel discussing Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) opportunities for developing countries and empowering women. The later is something still missing from a lot of discussions at the IGF, in spite of a series of efforts to make that part of the agenda. But here is why this is so important, in particular for the region I know best, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

While gender gap in access to internet varies massively around the world, for the largest part of developing countries the percentage of women online is far lower than that of men online. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, approx. 30 % fewer women than man have access to internet. According to the recent Women and the Web report, the reverse is happening in countries like France and the US, where women tend to be more present online than men. Yet, in places like sub-Saharan Africa,  these gaps are larger than 45%. At the global level, it is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women are not connected to the internet at all, making this group 25% less likely to be online. In this regard, it is important to look beyond the availability of the connection itself and to take into account also the affordability of price, since this is one of the obstacles in accessing the internet. Currently, for the Commonwealth of Independent States, the price of the average broadband monthly subscription of 7.3% of the annual per capita income, with great disparities between the rural and the urban areas, in terms of broadband availability, but also connected to the gender roles in the house (the head of the family usually bringing the money and deciding on its allocation).

Apart from the physical connection that facilitates access to the internet, there’s also a need to investigate the engagement of women with the use and development of software. As we know, software is not neutral but rather gendered in both design and use embedding a series of behavioural standards. In 2006, according to a study of the European Commission, only 1.6% of all FOSS developers in the EU were women. This is lower than 2%, which compared to proprietary software, makes a big difference, since for the later women engagement reached 28% of the same time period that the survey covered in order to illustrate the situation.

The FOSS community has a lot to gain from the different approaches that women might take to software development. However, this potential is almost completely sidelined by a series of challenges posed to women developers. First, the main pressure is thinking through the cycle of disparities to ensure that technology is developed within and keeping in mind the community at large, and this is also thinking at those who need it more – low income and rural populations. The second challenge would be overcoming the restrictive gender norms in certain part of the world, and going beyond the myth of techno phobia, that women are less technological savvy than men are.  In this case, developing a context that is fostering women’s involvement would be probably the most fruitful avenue for helping out with increasing the no. of women in FOSS. And there is a 4th challenge, that is that of including more women in decision and policy-making processes, as women are able to speak to a different audience, think through the challenges posed to the larger communities, look at the benefit for the next generations, as well as bringing diversity and innovate in unexplored ways if given a seat at the table and a voice in the process.

At the same time, women empowerment, understood as the capacity to alter structural conditions, in order to govern oneself in the best interest, presupposes that women are not treated as a monolithic group, as being all the same, but rather need to be as a diverse group, revealing the differences across cultures. In the CIS, there is a configuration of structural conditions that reflect both the potential and the pitfall of advancing women empowerment in FOSS. On the one hand, there are very high literacy rates, with only slight variation by gender and almost the entire population being literate in these countries. On the other hand, the computer education lags behind, with the materials taught in school being, most of the times, basic or even outdated, meaning that those who look into doing a career in developing software need to do a lot of work independently.

Third, there is also the context of limited windows of opportunity for consistent and sustainable involvement of women, so even though there might be certain initiatives to involve women more in FOSS, they tend to be one-shot initiatives rather than long-term processes.

I  turn now to policy directions and some potential mechanisms for women empowerment in FOSS. In the first place, there is a need to rethink the learning orientation, from this independent focus to a community thinking. Women tend to be more inclined to participate if they are made aware of the benefits for their communities, their families, their grandchildren. And they tend to work better in groups rather than by themselves – and this is one of the things that does happen in the FOSS community, yet it seems to be dominated by people who are specializing in computer technology from an early age – women, on the other hand, tend to start quite late. In the FOSS community there is the need to work by yourself quite a lot, which might be one of the obstacles preventing women from engaging more, as they might be more community-oriented.

In the second place, there is a need for an integrated approach that would go beyond just singling out women and creating spaces for women only, but actually interacting more with men and teaching also men about what it means to have women involved in FOSS processes. And third, there is a need to create a policy-making infrastructure that gives priority also to women in particular as FOSS is becoming more and more used for governmental operations and it might become the standard in the future for gov websites. There is an urgent need to involve women in such processes, reaching out to segments of the population that might have differentiated needs that might have been unaccounted for so far.

Last but not least, there is a need to sustainable initiatives, that should be ensured constant support and which would foster innovation. I hope we can all work towards this in the post-2015 development agenda.

Internet Governance

Only dead fish swim with the stream

The warmth of the genuinely friendly and hospitable Balinese people in the famous Indonesian archipelago of Bali together with the sunny and warm tropical weather emanating form the Bali sea was a clear indication the 8th Global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) would be fruitful and lead to positive outcomes. The tone had already been set by the environment.

The Scenic Bali Sea beach

The IGF capacity building pre-event organized by Internet Society had all global ISOC Ambassadors and ISOC fellows from the Asian Pacific region participate in topics of their interests that had an impact on the Internet in their respective regions. The discussions took the un-conference format where every individual from Australia to Argentina, from Kenya to Costa Rica, from Vanuatu to Uganda, from Venezuela to Russia, all felt comfortable and they could contribute without pressure.

Inside the Fishbowl

The discussions were done through the interesting and unique fishbowl method where seven debaters sat in the middle of a two tier circle, with an eight slot available for the other members sited outside the center ring to fill if they felt the need to contribute to the debate. Only those on the inside circle could contribute, and one had to exit the circle through peer pressure and join the outside circle to maintain the balance to seven debaters if the eight slot was occupied. A prefect would ensure fishbowl rules were followed; and a scribe would note all the key-points that emerge form the debate, but neither of them could contribute to the discussions.

A Fishbowl in session. Extream right, Ms. Toral Cowieson, Senior Director, Internet Leadership was the Prefect 

Interesting debates from different Internet related problems from across the globe were tackled, some of them being

  1. How do we create contacts within local stakeholders, running projects for the chapter and extending support to local community.
  2. Best practices in financial management of ISOC chapters including fund-raising and grants
  3. Setting ISOC chapter’s objectives and goals
  4. If we work on a project it would be … with … and jointly we can achieve …
  5. What is my role in my chapter to shape up the future of Internet in my community … and what do I need to do …
  6. ISOC chapters contribute most effectively to the Internet Governance if …
  7. Online Intermediaries and human rights : Embracing transparency, accountability and Trustin the Digital era.
  8. What is preventing effective Cyber security in developing countries? Are policymakers not aware of the severity of the issues and multitude of responses required (people, process and tech), and as much haven’t made Cyber security a national priority.
  9. Use of the Internet to support creative economy and sustainable development
  10. Child safety online: What is the role of parents in ensuring that children are safe online?
  11. Best practices in building community of learning. How do we create peer networks that build capacity building to Internet Governance?

The fishbowl is an interesting way of brainstorming and coming up with new ideas for contemporary problems that affect us. I consider this a key takeaway from the ISOC Ambassadorial program because we can use it in our local ISOC chapter meetings where all members will feel welcomed and encouraged to contribute. It can also be used in our day to day jobs , in meetings where we sometimes struggle to get members engaged.

The solution room.

This was a more interesting method of getting solutions for participants that had Internet related problems in their region. On the solution room, eight participants sat on a round-table and asked to write down their problem in a paper glued infront of each one of them. Participants then moved clockwise one position, but left their problem behind. Now the problem became the problem of the whole group, where they brainstormed around it as the members sited infront of the problem scribed the solutions offered. All the problems would be solved clockwise until the last. Each member would then take the solution for adoption in solving the respective problem presented.

The Solution Room.

Overal, the capacity building workshops helped chapters identify challenges, strengths and opportunities for growth and expansion. I hope chapters can feed the outcomes into their chapter activities in their respective countries.

Internet Governance

Power of Internet for Disaster and Environmental Control

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

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

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

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

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

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