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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Open Consultations at the ITU: How to build an enabling environment for Internet access

Last week, the Internet Society participated in the physical consultation of the ITU Council Working Group on “International Internet-related public policy issues.” Participation in this CWG-Internet group is closed to non-governments. However, the consultations are open to all stakeholders. During the meeting, stakeholders shared their perspectives from their online submittals on the topic of: How do we build an enabling environment for Internet access?

The issue of expanding Internet access has garnered much attention and interest by the international community following the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Recognised by many as an important horizontal enabler to most of the Agenda’s 17 goals, Internet access is emerging as a key policy topic for major governmental and private institutions alike.

This increased focus on Internet access has, in turn, led to a plethora of new initiatives and strategies for bringing online the remaining 53% of the global population. However, achieving the goal of universal Internet access will only be successful and sustainable if the fundamentals for access growth are strong.

These fundamentals, which we call the “access enabling environment”, are the set of interrelated conditions across infrastructure, governance, and human capacity that provide the foundation for development and adoption of the Internet in any country or location.

In this light, the Internet Society was pleased to submit to the consultation and present our recent paper “A policy framework for enabling Internet access” which outlines these fundamentals. Written as a tool for policymakers as they approach the multi-faceted issue of creating an enabling environment, the framework provides what we believe are the necessary priorities for Internet Access:

  • Expanding Infrastructure,
  • Fostering Skills and Entrepreneurship,
  • Supportive Governance.

Together they allow us to approach the issue in a flexible and continuous manner, adaptable to the local and regional specific challenges, while also recognising the enabling environment’s dual purpose: to ensure that people can access the Internet and that they see an Internet that is accessible and relevant to them.

Importantly, no single stakeholder group can succeed in creating those favourable conditions on their own – making multistakeholder collaboration a key feature of any successful attempts.

This is hopefully one of the ITU membership’s key takeaways from the consultations because the variety of issues and views identified through the process also stem from the stakeholders’ sometimes unique perspectives. Whether it’s a question of a cohesive use of prefixes to describe your e-; digital-; or ICT-policies, the use of satellite access in remote areas, promoting local content, or ensuring fundamental rights online, they are all conditions that will impact the rate and scope of Internet development and adoption. Neglecting their point of view and concerns would be the greatest impediment to progress because in the end, it will require all of the stakeholders to create the conditions needed for success.

What will come of these consultations at the ITU is yet to be seen. What is important is that the open nature of these consultations be preserved and expanded upon, whereby all stakeholders can follow the discussions and contribute. Inviting all the stakeholders to share their views is a good starting point, but there is a need to continue the opening-up process. Transparency promotes trust – a key factor for successful collaborations and reduced uncertainties.

This is one of the key messages that the Internet Society will carry to the ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2016 as governments determine the future direction of the ITU Standardization Telecommunication sector.

Image credit: ITU Photos, CC-BY 2.0

Growing the Internet Internet Governance

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a map?

Based on the positive response to the online maps we released last year, they tell a story. All of us understand the digital divide, but here we can see it in the differences between regions, and we can puzzle why some countries stand out within a region. To help find answers, we can see how affordability of Internet access differs and can help to explain adoption levels. What about the speed of broadband? Is the speed in our country really so slow compared to our neighbours, or is it better than we thought? And why is the Internet more or less resilient?

These were among the topics covered in last year’s Global Internet Report, and we have just updated those maps. We also went further, and added maps on Internet resources (IPv4 allocations, ccTLD usage) and the stage of DNSSEC deployment across countries. We also started to address content, looking at Wikipedia edits across countries, as well as limits on content in different countries.

Enjoy the maps - you can embed them in your own pages, and help us to share the further. Please also let us know if there are other public data sources we could use to create more maps, so that we can add more chapters to the living story of how the Internet is spreading everywhere, for everyone.

Picture © Aram Bartholl 2014 by-nc-sa 3.0