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MAINTAINING THE OPENNESS OF THE INTERNET - WCIT AND BEYOND- AFRICAN COUNTRIES PERSPECTIVE

The multistakeholder approach adopted for the development and evolution of the internet since its early development which has served the internet community so well over the past years leading to breakthrough innovationns was called into question at WCIT-12.
Should the internet continue to remain open or governments should be allowed to regulate its usage including determining what kind of content should be published on the internet?
What will a governmental censorship of the internet mean for the advancement of internet related innovation and technology?

 Please your comments to address how these decisions will  alleviate  some of the challenges in Africa is highly appreciated

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Comment by Eleanor Adwoa Forbea Afful on April 16, 2013 at 7:07pm

Thanks Poncelet. I totally agree with you. In this modern age where technology is  moving faster than governments, legal systems, and even individuals can keep up, It is very imperative to engage governments in most if not all multi-stakeholder discussions for them to  be aware of the important role they play as they represent nations towards development of an  open Internet and lessen the  thoughts of "control" from  the selfish gains of  a group of individuals based on their exploitation of this "Internet for everyone" which is far advancing beyond imagination.

Comment by Poncelet O. Ileleji on April 15, 2013 at 4:12pm

Hello Eleanor, your question is very appropriate, however after having attended the WCIT - 12, with the delegation from the Gambia, one thing is apparent clearly, the Internet should remain open, its what majority in the world subscribe to.

Focusing on Africa, majority of African countries who had reservations, did so because they did not understand the whole concept of internet governance, the way forward is getting our local ICT Ecosystem with all stake holders to be involved in Internet Governance first at a national level then regional level.  This approach will help alot.  Other key stake holders like ICANN which have numerous programs with its new African Strategy should also be engaged because they help alot, and thats why ICANN initiated an African Strategy which is now moving on spearheaded by Africans for Africans.

 

Nations will self regulate their content baed on their various context, every nation has its own rules based on set national laws, in saying this is does not mean the internet should not be open, but we as individuals and communitities should know when self regulation is needed, just as parents regulate what their children watch or consume or are associated it.

 

I think when we respect, and agree we  can be different but uphold the same principles of an open internet within the context of where we are, where we from and respect then all will be fine.  Its on this principle that I belief for Internet Governance tol be relevant and play a key role in national development, the governments have to be engaged they are critical for a true multi stakeholder approach to work, they are part and a key component of our Internet governance structures in country.

 

This is my little 1% contribution to this discuss.

Comment by Efehi Ubebe on April 4, 2013 at 10:43pm

You're welcome Eleanor.

That's indeed a brilliant question. It's also one that deserves a lot of thought because, as in the real world, there is no perfect 'standardized model'.

We are just making it up as we go along.

Clearly, I do not have all the answers.

I would think ICANN, the Registrars and internet service providers should have a crucial part to play. They should be empowered to flag up discrepancies - more like bouncers at the 'internet club' - and deny admission to specific to offending devices. By that, I mean, auto-restrict a subscriber's access to the internet if his device is discovered to have been used for a contrary e-activity.

As for all other stakeholders, especially big business and governments, self-regulation would be a mighty tall task simply due to the level of competing interests involved.

I would say, regulation by the service providers should insist on a minimum disclosure of personal information prior to subscription, and the ability to restrict connectivity per residential address, etc.

The real penalty of a ban on internet connectivity per premise using personal information provided by users can be wielded as a deterrent. More like being in an internet-deprivation zone. (smiles)

Comment by Eleanor Adwoa Forbea Afful on April 4, 2013 at 8:02pm

Efehi,  I am very glad for your wonderful contributions!!!! Well said that the drive to control the Internet is more of exploitation than seeking the common goal for all. The Internet is now providing and enhancing a lot businesses  for both the government and big industries. What type(s) of standardized business model(s) or economic models operate to ensure that e-markets, e-organizations, e-society  etc regulate itself, for itself, by itself with some level of fairness among all stakeholders including the vulnerable?

Comment by Efehi Ubebe on April 4, 2013 at 5:16pm

I earlier said: "there are default principles that apply within most nation's internal policies, and there are specific principles including those aimed at the more vulnerable participants in society. These should be the main policies, when geo-political/cyber policy integration is to be considered."

If at all, cyber-culture only requires a minimum level of intervention - solely to protect the vulnerable. Censorship should not be universally applicable, rather an emphasis should be placed on user self-regulation. Let the e-markets and e-society, regulate itself, for itself, by itself.

I believe the drive to control the internet is borne out of an opportunistic desire by governments and big industry to selfishly exploit a potentially super-lucrative resource.

It should not be permitted.

Comment by Eleanor Adwoa Forbea Afful on April 4, 2013 at 4:53pm

With the  system of censorship rating, it becomes necessary to balance conflicting rights in order to determine what can and cannot be censored.  Then how can cyber-culture be allowed to evolve in its own right without any form of interventions?

Comment by Efehi Ubebe on April 3, 2013 at 8:32pm

I would prefer to think of the internet as today's cyber-pangea.

'Online culture' should not be defined by a particular geo-political area, that's true. However, it bodes better for the future of the internet if cyber-culture is freely allowed to evolve in its own right.

Attempts made to guide global culture (a.k.a. civilisation) in the past, have been complete disasters. Even in these modern times, we still do not have the knack for it.

Culture is dynamic, and its evolution is often dependent on necessity. In this case, the necessity of the 'common man' should be at the forefront of policy-making.

As to national policies, I reckon the internet has gifted us with a clean slate to re-work a universal model for acceptable social interaction.

Most e-businesses, and online communities are already self-regulatory - according to the mutual agreement entered by the parties involved.

Then also, there are default principles that apply within most nation's internal policies, and there are specific principles including those aimed at the more vulnerable participants in society. These should be the main policies, when geo-political/cyber policy integration is to be considered.

Existing service providers, e-organisations and on-line communities can be invited to adopt these policies and integrate them into their operations.

I am optimistic, the internet can successfully function using the same system of censorship rating employed in the film industry. A self-regulatory system for all stakeholders.

Comment by Eleanor Adwoa Forbea Afful on April 3, 2013 at 6:53pm

Thanks for your thought provoking comment !! How innovative with advancement  the Internet has been so far  with  little governmental Intervention. It is true from track-record that state regulation of utilities in different nations has  proved futile, however,  there is some form of  International policy governing the Internet knowing no boundaries which could be a worry if not safeguarded/protected  with some form of regulations from various different national cultural practices turning into "online culture" without measure. How do we integrate national policies to the existing policies that is  running the Internet? Is a challenge to address what do you think?

Comment by Efehi Ubebe on April 3, 2013 at 6:18pm

Governmental intervention in the running of the internet is easily an attempt to create artificial restrictions on an easily accessible, (at present), resource - on par with oxygen, rain, sunlight, et.c. It is just not a sensible option.

How successful has been the track-record of State regulation? Can one validate the outcomes that have been achieved from State regulation of utilities in different nations? I fear this proposed development would go the way of a less-than-salubrious land grab.

The internet should be left to run on its own steam, there is still a lot of unknown capacity that exists in cyber-space. There are lots of prospective on-line communities, that will find it easy to make developmental contributions to the application of cyber-technology if the internet is left open. 

Governments should regard the internet the way they would the human brain - there is a vast expanse of the 'unknown', waiting to be discovered and celebrated.

The internet should remain the utopia of the man on the street, an escape from a real-live existence that is heavily regulated and commercially lop-sided. 

It would be the most humane response of all stakeholders.

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