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Regional Roadmap for Internet Governance in Arab Countries

by Hanane Boujemi and Fahd A. Batayneh

The 2nd consultation round for the “Regional Roadmap for Internet Governance in Arab Countries” was held on October 25-26, 2010 at the UN House in Beirut, Lebanon. DiploFoundation was represented by Hanane Boujemi who contributed in The Regional Roadmap on Internet issues in the Arab region and Fahd Bataynah who participated in setting a forum discussion on IG issues in the Arab region.

Representatives from a diverse range of Arab countries, as well as experts from the International arena
attended the meeting namely:
  • IG UN Office Geneva
  • ITU
  • League of Arab States (LAS)
  • Key players in the region
The objectives of the meeting included:
  • Serving as a guideline for decision-makers and policy-makers in the Arab countries
  • Providing a baseline for future follow-up
  • Enabling Arab countries to effectively act on their views and needs within the global arena
  • Promoting the role of Arab countries as effective players in the global Internet society
The subprograms (themes) that were discussed during the course of the two days were:
  1. Institutional Empowerment
  2. Critical Internet Resources
  3. Access
  4. Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
  5. Security and Privacy
  6. Openness
Subprogram 1: Institutional Empowerment
The objective of this theme is to play a substantial role in shaping a more balanced, internationalized, transparent, and accountable institutional governance schemes for global public policy-making. This could be accomplished by:
  • Active participation of Arab stakeholders in the Internet global public policy-making process
  • Improved representation of all Arab stakeholders at the leadership and decision-making level in Internet public policy-making bodies and constituencies
  • The launch of a robust regional mechanism for advocating Internet governance issues
  • Enhanced cooperation on the sub-regional level
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Establish an Arab IGF to be launched for a period of 5 years and organized regionally based on a model similar to that of the global IGF
  • Improve the mechanisms of policy development in the region
  • Ensure high-level representation of Arab countries in future international IG events similar to the IGF
  • Coordinate local and regional efforts in preparation for international Internet policy-making conferences and/or meetings
  • Undertake all necessary actions to acquire better representation of the Arab region in the Internet policy making bodies such as the ICANN board of directors, GAC…
  • Undertake all necessary actions to have the interests of the Arab region fully recognized based on its official geographical representation
  • Proactively participate in the policy-making process following improved representation and influence of the Arab region
  • Fund scholarships and research programs to contribute to standardization efforts such as those of IETF
  • Fund fellowship programs to facilitate participation in international meetings such as those of ICANN
  • Launch an Arab Volunteer Experts (AVE) program to participate in public input to ICANN review committees and other IG bodies
Subprogram 2: Critical Internet Resources
The objective and expected accomplishments of this theme included:
  • To ensure the stability, security, and resiliency of the DNS
    • Improved implementation of security measures for the DNS in the Arab region
  • To expand the TLDs pertaining to the Arab region in the DNS
    • Enhanced role of the Arab region in the decision making process for developing the DNS
    • Improved Arab presence in the TLD space (.arab, .عرب)
  • To effectively deploy IP addresses
    • Increase number of IPs in the Arab region
    • Increase capacity in the region to implement IPv6
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Reclamation and reuse of a substantial amount of unused IPv4 addresses via inter-regional IPv4 address transfer – if possible
  • Study and analyze the strategic importance of establishing a new RIR for the Arab region – with a possible name of ArabNIC
  • Conduct an opinion poll targeting governments, the private sector, and civil society on the feasibility and use of forming a coalition that is representative of the Arab geographic region
  • Seek to change restrictions on allocating IP addresses to developing countries with a view to providing more liberal and competitive allocations for all countries
  • Forge a formal relationship with root server operators located in the Arab region who operate based on a contract with ICANN in order to set the rules of management for these servers with a view to alleviate the concern that the control of the master root zone file is retained by one government entity
  • Adopt recommended security measures by directing Arab ccTLD operators to deploy DNSSec in their zones and fostering the implementation of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
  • Encourage establishing Arab gTLDs such as the “.arab” and its equivalent in Arabic characters.
  • Undertake effective actions to raise awareness of the importance of IPv6
    • Arab IPv6 Task Force and affiliated national task forces
  • Secure adequate shares of IPv6 pools for Arab countries based on population and expected growth rates
  • Ensure smooth and swift transition from IPv4 to IPv6 including making Arab Internet backbones IPv6-compatible
Subprogram 3: Access
The objective of this theme is to narrow the Internet access divide between the Arab region and developed

regions. The expected accomplishments included:

  • Increase usage of Internet access devices and access points
  • Enhance presence of Arabic digital content and user-friendly Internet applications including Arabic addressing schemes
  • Enhance network infrastructure allowing access to the Internet
  • Decrease cost of Internet access
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Launch national and regional awareness campaigns on the importance and proper use of the Internet
  • Introduce courses on Internet Usage as part of formal school education
  • In partnership with the private sector, facilitate the acquisition of access devices at reasonable prices through; for example, loans or incentives
  • Promote competitive and collaborative models for providing access to the Internet such as community tele-centres or access points which will require collaboration with NGOs
  • Opt for multilateral agreements between the Arab countries and Internet backbones operators to reduce connectivity cost
  • Promote Internet access through wireless solutions
  • Encourage the establishment of, and accessibility to national and regional Internet exchange points (IXPs)
  • Develop tools and software to help people with special needs and motivate them to use the Internet
  • Involve NGOs in identifying the needs of people with disabilities
  • Increase regional technical participation with regard to the standardization of tools and devices related to the needs of the Arab region
  • Promote the use of the Arabic language on the Internet through promoting the production of digital Arabic content, building government e-services and registering domain names
  • Facilitate the hosting of Websites on servers in the Arab region
Subprogram 4: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
The objective and expected accomplishments of this theme included:
  • To improve the presence of the Arabic language and culture on the Internet
    • Improved availability of digital Arabic content and services online
    • Enhanced number of Arab Internet users
  • To expand the TLDs pertaining to the Arab region in the DNS
    • Enhanced role of the Arab region in the decision making process for developing the DNS
    • Improved Arab presence in the TLD space
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Contribute to formulating bottom-up policy for the continuation of IDNs, particularly those for the Arabic language
  • Maintain support for full IDNs
  • Encourage establishing Arab gTLDs such as the “.arab” and its equivalent in Arabic characters
  • Promote the use of the Arabic language for developing and using digital content, building government e-services, registering domain names, and hosting websites on servers in the region
  • Encourage investments in digital content development including applications, services and language processing tools
  • Launch research units at universities and local institutions to promote, measure, and implement digital content programs/projects
Subprogram 5: Security and Privacy
The objective and expected accomplishments of this theme included:
  • To enhance cyber security in the Arab region
    • Reduce number of incidents that negatively impact the Internet service in the Arab region
    • Decrease incident response time
    • Increase Internet security measures
    • Enhance user awareness on security matters
    • Establish policy and legal frameworks for cyber security
  • To protect Arab Internet users against harmful content and cyber crimes
    • Establish policy and legal framework for content filtering and censorship
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Encourage the Arab community to engage in the DNS-CERT
  • Establish Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in all countries in the region
  • Organize national and regional security conferences
  • Implement DNSSec at the ccTLD and gTLD registries
  • Raise awareness and build capacities on security-related topics
  • Encourage investment in security tools and applications
  • Establish national cyber security policies
  • Establish cyber laws nationally and collaborate, regionally and globally, on the jurisdiction of those laws in cross-border attacks
Subprogram 6: Openness
The objective and expected accomplishments of this theme included:
  • To enhance the status of a culturally open yet safe Internet in the Arab region
    • Improved online expression and access to services
  • To improve Internet openness for development purposes
    • Increased access, use, and development of open source technologies and software (FLOSS)
    • Decreased restriction on open access to knowledge
The recommended policies and actions were:
  • Enact national laws that regulate online speech and expression while allowing for increased freedom
  • Introducing amendments to the laws that address copyrights to guarantee an easier access to knowledge and information, and opt for a new cross-border law that deals with copyright over the Internet
  • Launch capacity building programs about open source technologies and establish a library for open source content
  • Support research and software development that will serve the needs of the Arab region under a open source license and facilitate effective migration to open source platforms
  • Develop and publish country reports to analyze the current state of access to knowledge in each
    Arab country and the obstacles and procedures in place
Overall, the meetings were very fruitful, and attendees were optimistic that the Arab IGF shall kick-off sooner rather than later.

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