The atmosphere was filled with anticipation as they sat around in a state of the art, sophisticated conference room in what was the ACP Orientation meeting organized by Diplo Foundation (“Diplo”) which was also attended by Diplo Scholars and Alumni from around the world. The animated and lively facilitation by Vladmir Raduvonic, as he mapped the room quickly changed the dynamics into enthusiastic exchanges of life.
Amidst the plethora of colours, and diversity of expressions, one common theme was that Internet Governance should be about people. Threads of Universal Service, platform for creativity and innovation, network neutrality the capacity to share resources and draw and learn from best practices and not repeat worst practices and develop sustainable systems that will contribute to good Internet Governance. It was interesting to see the developments of facets relating to Internet Governance from Barbados, Congo DR, China, Fiji, Hungary, Kenya, Morocco, Serbia, Pakistan, South Africa, St Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, and Zimbabwe.
The beauty of the meeting was that people were able to as one participant from Barbados said, “Share experiences”.
The atmosphere was indeed rich as a participant from Pakistan recounted how a Judge banned Facebook in Pakistan and the steps she took to petition otherwise and the successful outcome reached. What was apparent was the reach that the Diplo courses and training and the impact that it has in building, equipping and empowering people who were impacting the corporate destiny of their respective communities, nations and regions and the wealth of experiences that were being shared.
One of the participants from Trinidad & Tobaggo enthusiastically said, "Diplo is fantastic!"
Common themes were capacity development, universal access, ICT strategy and vision, increased collaboration and global participation, regional harmonization, development of holistic policies, multi-stakeholder approach and diversity.
Some of the views expressed were:-
• Barbados - network neutrality – transparency is critical, and whether small developing countries can influence global policies on the issues ;
• Democratic Republic of Congo –ICT Academy with a focus on agriculture and education and the need to develop vision to build national strategies;
• China – use of mobile internet for public health, China Radio International –as a portal, National Foundation Project – discourse analysis on online public opinion;
• Fiji – the need to build and develop philosophy, increased collaboration and participation, the need for harmonization of policies and laws;
• Hungary – privacy – fact that it is pervasive, even in a confessional box;
• Kenya – multi-stakeholderism, capacity building, building sustainable systems, dialogue must make sense and develop into concrete tangible decisions ;
• Morroco –Serbia – enable wider and stronger civic participation, communication and developing meaningful dialogues between different perspectives, mechanisms to influence the development/direction of internet in the future;
• Pakistan – no ICT Policy, facebook was banned and the steps that were taken to help reshape the manner in which the Court dealt with blacklisting of the
• South Africa –issue of universal access, diversity on the internet ;
• St Lucia - access and giving voice to developing;
• Trinidad & Tobago –ICT as a catalyst for development, the need for evidence based policy, the importance of multi-stakeholderism to feeding into policy and action, small island developing states and the need for increased inter-country collaboration, increased regional integration towards a common single market and economy, internet governance whether the format IGF is useful and appropriate or should there be a more formal process;
• Zimbabwe – Gateway Policy – who should be responsible for developing and issues of fairness?
What was fascinating was that despite the diversity in the room, there were common threads and fundamentally the message was the same, that at the end of the day, internet governance is about people and that all the complex issues whether network neutrality, challenges of access, child online safety is about the people and that all stakeholders have a duty to humanity to ensure that they behave responsibly.
After all it is about the people, or is it not? Hmmmm..........