Internet Governance: Diversity and the Common Goal

Remember your first day at a new school. Remember the feelings one went to during that first day? This feeling repeats itself over and over again as one lives out one’s life.From the first day at school to the first day at work or even the first day at the retirement home.

It is not a pleasant feeling but the upside to this and in general you start feeling better as the day moves on. You get to know each other. And through the process of communication and living together one gets a more enhanced view of the situation. In this instance Internet Governance.

The state of Internet Governance differs from country to country as was heard in the stories heard from friends and colleagues at the round table. And broadly it falls under three subject – openness, access and security – both of the Individual and the state.

Openness

How free is one express oneself online. It differs for example in some countries one cannot saying anything against the leader because there is a law forbidding it. The law maybe specific or general or it also largely depends on the interpretation of the law. It maybe an e-commerce law or even a pornography law that can be used against you. In the Philippine were we enjoy relatively free atmosphere to express oneself but the Philippines fails in term of openness because of the chilling effect due to (i) the series of killings that have been happening and the (ii) libel cases that put a drain on the time and money of the defendant – one effect would be exercising what some would call self-censorship.

ACCESS

Is still a privilege. In order to be part of the Internet you need to have (i) a computer or a laptop; (ii) you have to have Internet connection and (iii) you have to have power to charge and power the Internet.

Part of it relies upon the Internet resources available. Is it free or hoe much does it cost. can it support the need of a nation.

In developing countries this is an issue. So much so that in countries with less than ten percent using the Internet the government can afford to not mind the digital community when it issues protests or campaigns because the rest of the country does not read them. In the Philippines during the election period the Internet Community is not as important as the large number of people who vote and do not use the Internet to decide on their vote. This of course shifts goes back to the Internet Community when talk on government, political and social issues commence.

Sometime though it is political –

Then again there are instances when denial access is done by the State through or with the help of Internet Service Providers, and Individuals. And this is why for certain delegates they cannot access sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and even blog sites.

SECURITY

In terms of Security there two concerns here that of the privacy and protection of the citizen. In a perfect world the concerns on privacy and protection do not conflict but they do .. .specially when it curtails the rights of the individual. There are States and Individuals who favors regulating the Internet for the good of the Citizen. Wacthers in the virtual word … but who watches the Watchers. Clearly there is a need for much talk and policy debate on this matter.

The state of security differs. In some there are talks that one needs a license to use the Internet. In some you have to register every time you use the Net. And then there are motions to issue license to bloggers and other writers of the web.

The State of Internet Governance

It differs from country to country and at the same time similar – in that it all circles in and around Openness, Access amd Security. So although the delegates came from different areas around Asia-Pacific there are commmon causes.

And the state of Internet Governance is still being moulded and shaped. I think it will be perpetually in this state. And to not participate in the process will at the country, regional and global level leave us with a form of Internet Governance we might not like or worse be used against us.

RELATED POSTS:

Why I went to the Asia-Pacific Internet Governance Forum
2010 Asia Declaration on Internet Governance

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