IGF


LIRNEasia research fellow, Nuwan Waidyanatha, will be part of a panel discussion on ‘Rapidly Reconnecting the Disconnected in Disasters‘ at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum to be held in Bangkok from 26 to 29 July, 2017. The session, titled “Cry for Help!” is meant to expose participants to low-cost, easy-to-use tech and foster an environment which challenges experts through dialogue and participatory exercises. “Rapid Restoration of Access to Telecommunication” (RREACT) – AP is highly susceptible to disasters. Telecommunications, as a critical infrastructure, is vital for crisis management.
The digital world is exploding with uncountable data. Millions of users generate information via thousands of sources every day. This data is then consumed for a number of purposes from business to entertainment. Is there a purpose and potential for big data beyond business and entertainment? The big data team at LIRNEasia is trying to answer this question.
The second panel was on digital rights and multistakeholderism. I did not think there can be much debate about a Rorschach inkblot so I devoted only one slide to it and made some passing comments, which still managed to elicit some response from the people who live under the protection of the concept. Digital rights was where the robust exchange occurred. Not because of the relatively uncontroversial issue of governments being prevented from arbitrarily shutting down the Internet and the underlying telecom networks that I proposed. But it was because one of the panelists proposed the wholesale importation of the European data protection regime and rights such as the “right to be forgotten.
Yesterday I participated in two panel discussions at the Sri Lanka Internet Governance Forum 2017. IGFs are primarily intended to permit an exchange of ideas among public, private and civil society stakeholders, helping to make the overall process of governance better. Government was represented on both panels as was the private sector. The audience was not the most informed or energetic, but that was possibly because the organizers conducted proceedings in English. In the first panel the theme was SDGs.
It’s just over two days since we presented the findings of the online freelancing work to the media, government and the private sector in Colombo. And on the other side of the world, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Helani Galpaya reports: One of my 3 panels today at the UN IGF in Mexico. This one on “The Future of Work”. Vint Cert (co-panellist, also BTW a “co-father” of the Internet etc) looks on disapprovingly it seems, but actually he & I agreed on the need for constant re-skilling in the digital economy (even in microwork platforms). Unlike some other speakers who called for more unionization, lamented the job losses and the problems and changes to traditional life-time jobs due to the emergence of the gig/sharing economy without acknowledging the positives.
Helani Galpaya and Shamistra Soysa participated in the second IGF (2007) held in Rio. But in 2015 our engagement was an order of magnitude higher. Helani participated in two Main Sessions and five workshops. She also spoke at a side event organized by Deutsche Welle for media personnel from Africa. Tuesday, November 10 9:00am-10:30am WS 126 Can Internet rights and access goals be reconciled?
Here is what I worked up as an opening statement for the IGF 2015 Main Session: Human Rights, Access and Internet Governance Roundtable on Day 4: 13 November, 11:00-13:00, at the Main Meeting Hall I have been engaged in the provision of access, first to voice telephony and then to Internet, over the past two decades. Compared to expansion of access to other infrastructure services such as electricity and transportation, the ICT efforts have been extremely successful. In my work in government, as well as in our work in research and policy advocacy, we have tried to be mindful of the legal obligations set out in our laws (as well as in international treaty instruments our government is party to). Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires government to act without discrimination and Article 25(3) on equal access to public services were among the most relevant in terms of access policies and implementation. Active government support for access is associated with a positive-rights approach.
I will be participating in this Internet Governance Forum session in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, later this year. The session is organized by UN Global Pulse: In recent years, the potential of big data derived from the Internet and other digital devices to transform targeted advertising, recommender systems, location based services, logistics and other activities in the private sector has come to fruition. Increasingly, parallel applications in development work have emerged, proving the utility of big data for monitoring and measuring social phenomenon including disease outbreaks, food security, or migration. However, the opportunities presented by big data simultaneously raise serious concerns about privacy, especially when it comes to use of personal data. To realize the benefits of “Big Data for Development” it is important to find solutions for how to protect fundamental rights and values, including the right to privacy as recognized by the UDHR and ICCPR.
The original idea was that problems in the last mile were holding back the next billion. My argument was that while problems of quality and affordability are experienced by users on their terminal devices in the last mile, the actual causes are along the supply chain, in the form of expensive and non-resilient domestic and international backhaul. The slideset.
I am here at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Macau (I really wish they’ll agree on the English spelling; My visa says Macao; Government signboards here say Macau; my spell checker seems to prefer Macau). MAC representative Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul haq Inu, M.P., said in his address, as he always does, that Internet is a basic human right. As Vint Cerf said, it is problematic to designate Internet as a basic human right.
Of all the sessions that LIRNEasia people spoke at (eight officially; nine if the one where I was asked to speak on our big data work is included), the zero-rating session had been the most controversial. Understandably, it has drawn the attention of journalists. Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia noted that mobile phones have a high penetration across countries in South-East and South Asia, and that there even exist a fair number of low priced data plans. However there are many at the so-called bottom of the pyramid for whom even a low priced data plan is still challenging. Zero rating has helped them come on aboard.
Setting the Scene Focus Session – Tuesday, September 2 • 11:00am – 12:30pm Sub-themes for IGF 2014 a) POLICIES ENABLING ACCESS Speaker: Rohan Samarajiva, LirneAsia, Sri Lanka Rohan will provide a bird’s eye view on progress and challenges in achieving affordable access for all. He will highlight controversial issues that came up in the last year, such as:  net neutrality  role of governments and regulators vs role of markets: are we getting the balance right so that the benefits get to those who need it most?  access for all: public access, access for the poorest of the poor, access for people with disability Virat Bhatia will provide a review of how the topic will be discussed at the IGF 2014 at workshops and in the ‘access’ main session. Policies Enabling Access, Growth and Development on the Internet, Main session –Wednesday, September 3, 0930-1200 Here, Rohan Samarajiva will speak on policies conducive to Internet use. Workshop No.
I wonder what Carlos Afonso, who was so upset when I said at IGF2009 in Sharm El Sheikh that most people in developing countries would be accessing the Internet over mobile devices, would have to say now? China had 632 million Internet users at the end of June, an increase of 14.4 million since the end of December, according to a semiannual report published on Monday by the official China Internet Network Information Center, which is known as CNNIC. Of those, 83.4 percent reported gaining access to the Internet with mobile phones, exceeding for the first time the 80.
I was reminded of that old chestnut about a flagman having to walk in front of early automobiles when I heard some participants talk at the workshop on big data, social good and privacy. Imagine imposing inform and consent rules on transaction-generated data (big data) belonging to large corporate entities such as mobile operators. They need the data on user mobility patterns to manage their networks; they need financial transaction data to manage their finances. All these things can be covered under broad inform and consent procedures that will be presented to customers as they sign up. What will not be possible would be to permit use by third parties for traffic management, energy management, urban planning etc, since these uses could not be conceptualized at the time of signing up customers.
My comments at the Main Panel session at IGF 2012. Question 1: What does it take to attract investment in infrastructure and encourage innovation and growth of ICT services, including mobile technology and how can these technologies best be employed to address development challenges? Indonesia is a success story in Internet use. In a six-country, representative-sample survey we conducted in 2011, we found the highest use of the Internet among the poor among the six in Java, where the most of the Indonesian population lives. Indonesia is one of the heaviest users of Facebook, in the top five.
We’re irregular visitors to IGF (Helani went to Rio and Hyderabad; I went to Sharm el Sheikh, . . . ). But this year is kinda exciting, with the WCIT sword hanging over the multi-stakeholder model.
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